Moonbeams From the Larger Lunacy by Stephen
The prudent husbandman, after having taken from his field
all the straw that is there, rakes it over with a wooden
rake and gets as much again. The wise child, after the
lemonade jug is empty, takes the lemons from the bottom
of it and squeezes them into a still larger brew. So does
the sagacious author, after having sold his material to
the magazines and been paid for it, clap it into book-covers
and give it another squeeze. But in the present case the
author is of a nice conscience and anxious to place
responsibility where it is due. He therefore wishes to
make all proper acknowledgments to the editors of Vanity
Fair, The American Magazine, The Popular Magazine, Life,
Puck, The Century, Methuen's Annual, and all others who
are in any way implicated in the making of this book.
Oct. 1, 1915.
I SPOOF: A Thousand-Guinea Novel
II THE READING PUBLIC
III AFTERNOON ADVENTURES AT MY CLUB
l—The Anecdotes of Dr. So and So
2—The Shattered Health of Mr. Podge
3—The Amazing Travels of Mr. Yarner
4—The Spiritual Outlook of Mr. Doomer
5—The Reminiscences of Mr. Apricot
6—The Last Man Out of Europe
7—The War Mania of Mr. Jinks and Mr. Blinks
8—The Ground Floor
9—The Hallucination of Mr. Butt
IV RAM SPUDD
V ARISTOCRATIC ANECDOTES
VI EDUCATION MADE AGREEABLE
VII AN EVERY-DAY EXPERIENCE
VIII TRUTHFUL ORATORY
IX OUR LITERARY BUREAU
X SPEEDING UP BUSINESS
XI WHO IS ALSO WHO
XII PASSIONATE PARAGRAPHS
XIII WEEJEE THE PET DOG
XIV SIDELIGHTS ON THE SUPERMEN
XV THE SURVIVAL or THE FITTEST
XVI THE FIRST NEWSPAPER
XVII IN THE GOOD TIME AFTER THE WAR
I.—Spoof. A Thousand-Guinea Novel. New! Fascinating!
Readers are requested to note that this novel has taken
our special prize of a cheque for a thousand guineas.
This alone guarantees for all intelligent readers a
palpitating interest in every line of it. Among the
thousands of MSS. which reached us—many of them coming
in carts early in the morning, and moving in a dense
phalanx, indistinguishable from the Covent Garden Market
waggons; others pouring down our coal-chute during the
working hours of the day; and others again being slipped
surreptitiously into our letter-box by pale, timid girls,
scarcely more than children, after nightfall (in fact
many of them came in their night-gowns),—this manuscript
alone was the sole one—in fact the only one—to receive
the prize of a cheque of a thousand guineas. To other
competitors we may have given, inadvertently perhaps, a
bag of sovereigns or a string of pearls, but to this
story alone is awarded the first prize by the unanimous
decision of our judges.
When we say that the latter body included two members of
the Cabinet, two Lords of the Admiralty, and two bishops,
with power in case of dispute to send all the MSS. to
the Czar of Russia, our readers will breathe a sigh of
relief to learn that the decision was instant and unanimous.
Each one of them, in reply to our telegram, answered
This novel represents the last word in up-to-date fiction.
It is well known that the modern novel has got far beyond
the point of mere story-telling. The childish attempt to
INTEREST the reader has long since been abandoned by all
the best writers. They refuse to do it. The modern novel
must convey a message, or else it must paint a picture,
or remove a veil, or open a new chapter in human psychology.
Otherwise it is no good. SPOOF does all of these things.
The reader rises from its perusal perplexed, troubled,
and yet so filled with information that rising itself is
We cannot, for obvious reasons, insert the whole of the
first chapter. But the portion here presented was praised
by The Saturday Afternoon Review as giving one of the
most graphic and at the same time realistic pictures of
America ever written in fiction.
Of the characters whom our readers are to imagine seated
on the deck—on one of the many decks (all connected by
elevators)—of the Gloritania, one word may be said. Vere
de Lancy is (as the reviewers have under oath declared)
a typical young Englishman of the upper class. He is
nephew to the Duke of—, but of this fact no one on
the ship, except the captain, the purser, the steward,
and the passengers are, or is, aware.
In order entirely to conceal his identity, Vere de Lancy
is travelling under the assumed name of Lancy de Vere.
In order the better to hide the object of his journey,
Lancy de Vere (as we shall now call him, though our
readers will be able at any moment to turn his name
backwards) has given it to be understood that he is
travelling merely as a gentleman anxious to see America.
This naturally baffles all those in contact with him.
The girl at his side—but perhaps we may best let her
speak for herself.
Somehow as they sat together on the deck of the great
steamer in the afterglow of the sunken sun, listening to
the throbbing of the propeller (a rare sound which neither
of them of course had ever heard before), de Vere felt
that he must speak to her. Something of the mystery of
the girl fascinated him. What was she doing here alone
with no one but her mother and her maid, on the bosom of
the Atlantic? Why was she here? Why was she not somewhere
else? The thing puzzled, perplexed him. It would not let
him alone. It fastened upon his brain. Somehow he felt
that if he tried to drive it away, it might nip him in
In the end he spoke.
"And you, too," he said, leaning over her deck-chair,
"are going to America?"
He had suspected this ever since the boat left Liverpool.
Now at length he framed his growing conviction into words.
"Yes," she assented, and then timidly, "it is 3,213 miles
wide, is it not?"
"Yes," he said, "and 1,781 miles deep! It reaches from
the forty-ninth parallel to the Gulf of Mexico."
"Oh," cried the girl, "what a vivid picture! I seem to
"Its major axis," he went on, his voice sinking almost
to a caress, "is formed by the Rocky Mountains, which
are practically a prolongation of the Cordilleran Range.
It is drained," he continued—
"How splendid!" said the girl.
"Yes, is it not? It is drained by the Mississippi, by
the St. Lawrence, and—dare I say it?—by the Upper
Somehow his hand had found hers in the half gloaming,
but she did not check him.
"Go on," she said very simply; "I think I ought to hear
"The great central plain of the interior," he continued,
"is formed by a vast alluvial deposit carried down as
silt by the Mississippi. East of this the range of the
Alleghanies, nowhere more than eight thousand feet in
height, forms a secondary or subordinate axis from which
the watershed falls to the Atlantic."
He was speaking very quietly but earnestly. No man had
ever spoken to her like this before.
"What a wonderful picture!" she murmured half to herself,
half aloud, and half not aloud and half not to herself.
"Through the whole of it," de Vere went on, "there run
railways, most of them from east to west, though a few
run from west to east. The Pennsylvania system alone
has twenty-one thousand miles of track."
"Twenty-one thousand miles," she repeated; already she
felt her will strangely subordinate to his.
He was holding her hand firmly clasped in his and looking
into her face.
"Dare I tell you," he whispered, "how many employees it
"Yes," she gasped, unable to resist.
"A hundred and fourteen thousand," he said.
There was silence. They were both thinking. Presently
she spoke, timidly.
"Are there any cities there?"
"Cities!" he said enthusiastically, "ah, yes! let me
try to give you a word-picture of them. Vast cities—with
tall buildings, reaching to the very sky. Why, for
instance, the new Woolworth Building in New York—"
"Yes, yes," she broke in quickly, "how high is it?"
"Seven hundred and fifty feet."
The girl turned and faced him.
"Don't," she said. "I can't bear it. Some other time,
perhaps, but not now."
She had risen and was gathering up her wraps. "And you,"
she said, "why are you going to America?"
"Why?" he answered. "Because I want to see, to know, to
learn. And when I have learned and seen and known, I want
other people to see and to learn and to know. I want to
write it all down, all the vast palpitating picture of
it. Ah! if I only could—I want to see" (and here he
passed his hand through his hair as if trying to remember)
"something of the relations of labour and capital, of
the extraordinary development of industrial machinery,
of the new and intricate organisation of corporation
finance, and in particular I want to try to analyse—no
one has ever done it yet—the men who guide and drive
it all. I want to set down the psychology of the
He paused. The girl stood irresolute. She was thinking
(apparently, for if not, why stand there?).
"Perhaps," she faltered, "I could help you."
"Yes, I might." She hesitated. "I—I—come from America."
"You!" said de Vere in astonishment. "With a face and
voice like yours! It is impossible!"
The boldness of the compliment held her speechless for
"I do," she said; "my people lived just outside of Cohoes."
"They couldn't have," he said passionately.
"I shouldn't speak to you like this," the girl went on,
"but it's because I feel from what you have said that
you know and love America. And I think I can help you."
"You mean," he said, divining her idea, "that you can
help me to meet a multimillionaire?"
"Yes," she answered, still hesitating.
"You know one?"
"Yes," still hesitating, "I know ONE."
She seemed about to say more, her lips had already opened,
when suddenly the dull raucous blast of the foghorn (they
used a raucous one on this ship on purpose) cut the night
air. Wet fog rolled in about them, wetting everything.
The girl shivered.
"I must go," she said; "good night."
For a moment de Vere was about to detain her. The wild
thought leaped to his mind to ask her her name or at
least her mother's. With a powerful effort he checked
"Good night," he said.
She was gone.
Limits of space forbid the insertion of the whole of this
chapter. Its opening contains one of the most vivid
word-pictures of the inside of an American customs house
ever pictured in words. From the customs wharf de Vere
is driven in a taxi to the Belmont. Here he engages a
room; here, too, he sleeps; here also, though cautiously
at first, he eats. All this is so admirably described
that only those who have driven in a taxi to an hotel
and slept there can hope to appreciate it.
Limits of space also forbid our describing in full de
Vere's vain quest in New York of the beautiful creature
whom he had met on the steamer and whom he had lost from
sight in the aigrette department of the customs house.
A thousand times he cursed his folly in not having asked
Meanwhile no word comes from her, till suddenly,
mysteriously, unexpectedly, on the fourth day a note is
handed to de Vere by the Third Assistant Head Waiter of
the Belmont. It is addressed in a lady's hand. He tears
it open. It contains only the written words, "Call on
Mr. J. Superman Overgold. He is a multimillionaire. He
To leap into a taxi (from the third story of the Belmont)
was the work of a moment. To drive to the office of Mr.
Overgold was less. The portion of the novel which follows
is perhaps the most notable part of it. It is this part
of the chapter which the Hibbert Journal declares to be
the best piece of psychological analysis that appears in
any novel of the season. We reproduce it here.
"Exactly, exactly," said de Vere, writing rapidly in his
note-book as he sat in one of the deep leather armchairs
of the luxurious office of Mr. Overgold. "So you sometimes
feel as if the whole thing were not worth while."
"I do," said Mr. Overgold. "I can't help asking myself
what it all means. Is life, after all, merely a series
of immaterial phenomena, self-developing and based solely
on sensation and reaction, or is it something else?"
He paused for a moment to sign a cheque for $10,000 and
throw it out of the window, and then went on, speaking
still with the terse brevity of a man of business.
"Is sensation everywhere or is there perception too? On
what grounds, if any, may the hypothesis of a
self-explanatory consciousness be rejected? In how far
are we warranted in supposing that innate ideas are
inconsistent with pure materialism?"
De Vere listened, fascinated. Fortunately for himself,
he was a University man, fresh from the examination halls
of his Alma Mater. He was able to respond at once.
"I think," he said modestly, "I grasp your thought. You
mean—to what extent are we prepared to endorse Hegel's
dictum of immaterial evolution?"
"Exactly," said Mr. Overgold. "How far, if at all, do we
substantiate the Kantian hypothesis of the transcendental?"
"Precisely," said de Vere eagerly. "And for what reasons
[naming them] must we reject Spencer's theory of the
"Entirely so," continued Mr. Overgold. "And why, if at
all, does Bergsonian illusionism differ from pure
They both paused.
Mr. Overgold had risen. There was great weariness in his
"It saddens one, does it not?" he said.
He had picked up a bundle of Panama two per cent. gold
bonds and was looking at them in contempt.
"The emptiness of it all!" he muttered. He extended the
bonds to de Vere.
"Do you want them," he said, "or shall I throw them away?"
"Give them to me," said de Vere quietly; "they are not
worth the throwing."
"No, no," said Mr. Overgold, speaking half to himself,
as he replaced the bonds in his desk. "It is a burden
that I must carry alone. I have no right to ask any one
to share it. But come," he continued, "I fear I am sadly
lacking in the duties of international hospitality. I am
forgetting what I owe to Anglo-American courtesy. I am
neglecting the new obligations of our common Indo-Chinese
policy. My motor is at the door. Pray let me take you to
my house to lunch."
De Vere assented readily, telephoned to the Belmont not
to keep lunch waiting for him, and in a moment was speeding
up the magnificent Riverside Drive towards Mr. Overgold's
home. On the way Mr. Overgold pointed out various objects
of interest,—Grant's tomb, Lincoln's tomb, Edgar Allan
Poe's grave, the ticket office of the New York Subway,
and various other points of historic importance.
On arriving at the house, de Vere was ushered up a flight
of broad marble steps to a hall fitted on every side with
almost priceless objets d'art and others, ushered to the
cloak-room and out of it, butlered into the lunch-room
and footmanned to a chair.
As they entered, a lady already seated at the table turned
to meet them.
One glance was enough—plenty.
It was she—the object of de Vere's impassioned quest.
A rich lunch-gown was girdled about her with a
twelve-o'clock band of pearls.
She reached out her hand, smiling.
"Dorothea," said the multimillionaire, "this is Mr. de
Vere. Mr. de Vere—my wife."
Of this next chapter we need only say that the Blue Review
(Adults Only) declares it to be the most daring and yet
conscientious handling of the sex-problem ever attempted
and done. The fact that the Congregational Times declares
that this chapter will undermine the whole foundations
of English Society and let it fall, we pass over: we hold
certificates in writing from a great number of the Anglican
clergy, to the effect that they have carefully read the
entire novel and see nothing in it.
. . . . . . .
They stood looking at one another.
"So you didn't know," she murmured.
In a flash de Vere realised that she hadn't known that
he didn't know and knew now that he knew.
He found no words.
The situation was a tense one. Nothing but the woman's
innate tact could save it. Dorothea Overgold rose to it
with the dignity of a queen.
She turned to her husband.
"Take your soup over to the window," she said, "and eat
The millionaire took his soup to the window and sat
beneath a little palm tree, eating it.
"You didn't know," she repeated.
"No," said de Vere; "how could I?"
"And yet," she went on, "you loved me, although you didn't
know that I was married?"
"Yes," answered de Vere simply. "I loved you, in spite
"How splendid!" she said.
There was a moment's silence. Mr. Overgold had returned
to the table, the empty plate in his hand. His wife turned
to him again with the same unfailing tact.
"Take your asparagus to the billiard-room," she said,
"and eat it there."
"Does he know, too?" asked de Vere.
"Mr. Overgold?" she said carelessly. "I suppose he does.
Eh apres, mon ami?"
French? Another mystery! Where and how had she learned
it? de Vere asked himself. Not in France, certainly.
"I fear that you are very young, amico mio," Dorothea
went on carelessly. "After all, what is there wrong in
it, piccolo pochito? To a man's mind perhaps—but to a
woman, love is love."
She beckoned to the butler.
"Take Mr. Overgold a cutlet to the music-room," she
said, "and give him his gorgonzola on the inkstand in
"And now," she went on, in that caressing way which seemed
so natural to her, "don't let us think about it any more!
After all, what is is, isn't it?"
"I suppose it is," said de Vere, half convinced in spite
"Or at any rate," said Dorothea, "nothing can at the same
time both be and not be. But come," she broke off, gaily
dipping a macaroon in a glass of creme de menthe and
offering it to him with a pretty gesture of camaraderie,
"don't let's be gloomy any more. I want to take you with
me to the matinee."
"Is he coming?" asked de Vere, pointing at Mr. Overgold's
"Silly boy," laughed Dorothea. "Of course John is coming.
You surely don't want to buy the tickets yourself."
. . . . . . .
The days that followed brought a strange new life to de
Dorothea was ever at his side. At the theatre, at the
polo ground, in the park, everywhere they were together.
And with them was Mr. Overgold.
The three were always together. At times at the theatre
Dorothea and de Vere would sit downstairs and Mr. Overgold
in the gallery; at other times, de Vere and Mr. Overgold
would sit in the gallery and Dorothea downstairs; at
times one of them would sit in Row A, another in Row B,
and a third in Row C; at other times two would sit in
Row B and one in Row C; at the opera, at times, one of
the three would sit listening, the others talking, at
other times two listening and one talking, and at other
times three talking and none listening.
Thus the three formed together one of the most perplexing,
maddening triangles that ever disturbed the society of
. . . . . . .
The denouement was bound to come.
It was late at night.
De Vere was standing beside Dorothea in the brilliantly
lighted hall of the Grand Palaver Hotel, where they had
had supper. Mr. Overgold was busy for a moment at the
"Dorothea," de Vere whispered passionately, "I want to
take you away, away from all this. I want you."
She turned and looked him full in the face. Then she
put her hand in his, smiling bravely.
"I will come," she said.
"Listen," he went on, "the Gloritania sails for England
to-morrow at midnight. I have everything ready. Will you
"Yes," she answered, "I will"; and then passionately,
"Dearest, I will follow you to England, to Liverpool, to
the end of the earth."
She paused in thought a moment and then added.
"Come to the house just before midnight. William, the
second chauffeur (he is devoted to me), shall be at the
door with the third car. The fourth footman will bring
my things—I can rely on him; the fifth housemaid can
have them all ready—she would never betray me. I will
have the undergardener—the sixth—waiting at the iron
gate to let you in; he would die rather than fail me."
She paused again—then she went on.
"There is only one thing, dearest, that I want to ask.
It is not much. I hardly think you would refuse it at
such an hour. May I bring my husband with me?"
De Vere's face blanched.
"Must you?" he said.
"I think I must," said Dorothea. "You don't know how I've
grown to value, to lean upon, him. At times I have felt
as if I always wanted him to be near me; I like to feel
wherever I am—at the play, at a restaurant, anywhere
—that I can reach out and touch him. I know," she
continued, "that it's only a wild fancy and that others
would laugh at it, but you can understand, can you
not—carino caruso mio? And think, darling, in our new
life, how busy he, too, will be—making money for all of
us—in a new money market. It's just wonderful how he
A great light of renunciation lit up de Vere's face.
"Bring him," he said.
"I knew that you would say that," she murmured, "and
listen, pochito pocket-edition, may I ask one thing more,
one weeny thing? William, the second chauffeur—I think
he would fade away if I were gone—may I bring him, too?
Yes! O my darling, how can I repay you? And the second
footman, and the third housemaid—if I were gone I fear
that none of—"
"Bring them all," said de Vere half bitterly; "we will
all elope together."
And as he spoke Mr. Overgold sauntered over from the
cashier's desk, his open purse still in his hand, and
joined them. There was a dreamy look upon his face.
"I wonder," he murmured, "whether personality survives
or whether it, too, when up against the irresistible,
dissolves and resolves itself into a series of negative
De Vere's empty heart echoed the words.
Then they passed out and the night swallowed them up.
At a little before midnight on the next night, two motors
filled with muffled human beings might have been perceived,
or seen, moving noiselessly from Riverside Drive to the
steamer wharf where lay the Gloritania.
A night of intense darkness enveloped the Hudson. Outside
the inside of the dockside a dense fog wrapped the Statue
of Liberty. Beside the steamer customs officers and
deportation officials moved silently to and fro in long
black cloaks, carrying little deportation lanterns in
To these Mr. Overgold presented in silence his deportation
certificates, granting his party permission to leave the
United States under the imbecility clause of the Interstate
No objection was raised.
A few moments later the huge steamer was slipping away
in the darkness.
On its deck a little group of people, standing beside a
pile of first-class cabin luggage, directed a last sad
look through their heavy black disguise at the rapidly
vanishing shore which they could not see.
De Vere, who stood in the midst of them, clasping their
hands, thus stood and gazed his last at America.
"Spoof!" he said.
(We admit that this final panorama, weird in its midnight
mystery, and filling the mind of the reader with a sense
of something like awe, is only appended to Spoof in order
to coax him to read our forthcoming sequel, Spiff!)
II.—The Reading Public. A Book Store Study
"Wish to look about the store? Oh, oh, by all means,
sir," he said. Then as he rubbed his hands together in
an urbane fashion he directed a piercing glance at me
through his spectacles.
"You'll find some things that might interest you," he
said, "in the back of the store on the left. We have
there a series of reprints—Universal Knowledge from
Aristotle to Arthur Balfour—at seventeen cents. Or
perhaps you might like to look over the Pantheon of Dead
Authors at ten cents. Mr. Sparrow," he called, "just show
this gentleman our classical reprints—the ten-cent
With that he waved his hand to an assistant and dismissed
me from his thought.
In other words, he had divined me in a moment. There was
no use in my having bought a sage-green fedora in Broadway,
and a sporting tie done up crosswise with spots as big
as nickels. These little adornments can never hide the
soul within. I was a professor, and he knew it, or at
least, as part of his business, he could divine it on
The sales manager of the biggest book store for ten blocks
cannot be deceived in a customer. And he knew, of course,
that, as a professor, I was no good. I had come to the
store, as all professors go to book stores, just as a
wasp comes to an open jar of marmalade. He knew that I
would hang around for two hours, get in everybody's way,
and finally buy a cheap reprint of the Dialogues of Plato,
or the Prose Works of John Milton, or Locke on the Human
Understanding, or some trash of that sort.
As for real taste in literature—the ability to appreciate
at its worth a dollar-fifty novel of last month, in a
spring jacket with a tango frontispiece—I hadn't got it
and he knew it.
He despised me, of course. But it is a maxim of the book
business that a professor standing up in a corner buried
in a book looks well in a store. The real customers like
So it was that even so up-to-date a manager as Mr. Sellyer
tolerated my presence in a back corner of his store: and
so it was that I had an opportunity of noting something
of his methods with his real customers—methods so
successful, I may say, that he is rightly looked upon by
all the publishing business as one of the mainstays of
literature in America.
I had no intention of standing in the place and listening
as a spy. In fact, to tell the truth, I had become
immediately interested in a new translation of the Moral
Discourses of Epictetus. The book was very neatly printed,
quite well bound and was offered at eighteen cents; so
that for the moment I was strongly tempted to buy it,
though it seemed best to take a dip into it first.
I had hardly read more than the first three chapters when
my attention was diverted by a conversation going on in
the front of the store.
"You're quite sure it's his LATEST?" a fashionably dressed
lady was saying to Mr. Sellyer.
"Oh, yes, Mrs. Rasselyer," answered the manager. "I assure
you this is his very latest. In fact, they only came in
As he spoke, he indicated with his hand a huge pile of
books, gayly jacketed in white and blue. I could make
out the title in big gilt lettering—GOLDEN DREAMS.
"Oh, yes," repeated Mr. Sellyer. "This is Mr. Slush's
latest book. It's having a wonderful sale."
"That's all right, then," said the lady. "You see, one
sometimes gets taken in so: I came in here last week and
took two that seemed very nice, and I never noticed till
I got home that they were both old books, published, I
think, six months ago."
"Oh, dear me, Mrs. Rasselyer," said the manager in an
apologetic tone, "I'm extremely sorry. Pray let us send
for them and exchange them for you."
"Oh, it does not matter," said the lady; "of course I
didn't read them. I gave them to my maid. She probably
wouldn't know the difference, anyway."
"I suppose not," said Mr. Sellyer, with a condescending
smile. "But of course, madam," he went on, falling into
the easy chat of the fashionable bookman, "such mistakes
are bound to happen sometimes. We had a very painful case
only yesterday. One of our oldest customers came in in
a great hurry to buy books to take on the steamer, and
before we realised what he had done—selecting the books
I suppose merely by the titles, as some gentlemen are
apt to do—he had taken two of last year's books. We
wired at once to the steamer, but I'm afraid it's too
"But now, this book," said the lady, idly turning over
the leaves, "is it good? What is it about?"
"It's an extremely POWERFUL thing," said Mr. Sellyer,
"in fact, MASTERLY. The critics are saying that it's
perhaps THE most powerful book of the season. It has a—"
and here Mr. Sellyer paused, and somehow his manner
reminded me of my own when I am explaining to a university
class something that I don't know myself—"It has
a—a—POWER, so to speak—a very exceptional power; in
fact, one may say without exaggeration it is the most
POWERFUL book of the month. Indeed," he added, getting
on to easier ground, "it's having a perfectly wonderful
"You seem to have a great many of them," said the lady.
"Oh, we have to," answered the manager. "There's a
regular rush on the book. Indeed, you know it's a book
that is bound to make a sensation. In fact, in certain
quarters, they are saying that it's a book that ought
not to—" And here Mr. Sellyer's voice became so low and
ingratiating that I couldn't hear the rest of the sentence.
"Oh, really!" said Mrs. Rasselyer. "Well, I think I'll
take it then. One ought to see what these talked-of things
are about, anyway."
She had already begun to button her gloves, and to readjust
her feather boa with which she had been knocking the
Easter cards off the counter. Then she suddenly remembered
"Oh, I was forgetting," she said. "Will you send something
to the house for Mr. Rasselyer at the same time? He's
going down to Virginia for the vacation. You know the
kind of thing he likes, do you not?"
"Oh, perfectly, madam," said the manager. "Mr. Rasselyer
generally reads works of—er—I think he buys mostly
"Oh, travel and that sort of thing," said the lady.
"Precisely. I think we have here," and he pointed to the
counter on the left, "what Mr. Rasselyer wants."
He indicated a row of handsome books—"Seven Weeks in
the Sahara, seven dollars; Six Months in a Waggon,
six-fifty net; Afternoons in an Oxcart, two volumes,
four-thirty, with twenty off."
"I think he has read those," said Mrs. Rasselyer. "At
least there are a good many at home that seem like that."
"Oh, very possibly—but here, now, Among the Cannibals
of Corfu—yes, that I think he has had—Among the—that,
too, I think—but this I am certain he would like, just
in this morning—Among the Monkeys of New Guinea—ten
And with this Mr. Sellyer laid his hand on a pile of new
books, apparently as numerous as the huge pile of Golden
"Among the Monkeys," he repeated, almost caressingly.
"It seems rather expensive," said the lady.
"Oh, very much so—a most expensive book," the manager
repeated in a tone of enthusiasm. "You see, Mrs. Rasselyer,
it's the illustrations, actual photographs"—he ran the
leaves over in his fingers—"of actual monkeys, taken
with the camera—and the paper, you notice—in fact,
madam, the book costs, the mere manufacture of it, nine
dollars and ninety cents—of course we make no profit
on it. But it's a book we like to handle."
Everybody likes to be taken into the details of technical
business; and of course everybody likes to know that a
bookseller is losing money. These, I realised, were two
axioms in the methods of Mr. Sellyer.
So very naturally Mrs. Rasselyer bought Among the Monkeys,
and in another moment Mr. Sellyer was directing a clerk
to write down an address on Fifth Avenue, and was bowing
deeply as he showed the lady out of the door.
As he turned back to his counter his manner seemed much
"That Monkey book," I heard him murmur to his assistant,
"is going to be a pretty stiff proposition."
But he had no time for further speculation.
Another lady entered.
This time even to an eye less trained than Mr. Sellyer's,
the deep, expensive mourning and the pensive face proclaimed
the sentimental widow.
"Something new in fiction," repeated the manager, "yes,
madam—here's a charming thing—Golden Dreams"—he hung
lovingly on the words—"a very sweet story, singularly
sweet; in fact, madam, the critics are saying it is the
sweetest thing that Mr. Slush has done."
"Is it good?" said the lady. I began to realise that all
customers asked this.
"A charming book," said the manager. "It's a love
story—very simple and sweet, yet wonderfully charming.
Indeed, the reviews say it's the most charming book of
the month. My wife was reading it aloud only last night.
She could hardly read for tears."
"I suppose it's quite a safe book, is it?" asked the
widow. "I want it for my little daughter."
"Oh, quite safe," said Mr. Sellyer, with an almost parental
tone, "in fact, written quite in the old style, like the
dear old books of the past—quite like"—here Mr. Sellyer
paused with a certain slight haze of doubt visible in
his eye—"like Dickens and Fielding and Sterne and so
on. We sell a great many to the clergy, madam."
The lady bought Golden Dreams, received it wrapped up in
green enamelled paper, and passed out.
"Have you any good light reading for vacation time?"
called out the next customer in a loud, breezy voice—he
had the air of a stock broker starting on a holiday.
"Yes," said Mr. Sellyer, and his face almost broke into
a laugh as he answered, "here's an excellent thing—Golden
Dreams—quite the most humorous book of the season—simply
screaming—my wife was reading it aloud only yesterday.
She could hardly read for laughing."
"What's the price, one dollar? One-fifty. All right,
wrap it up." There was a clink of money on the counter,
and the customer was gone. I began to see exactly where
professors and college people who want copies of Epictetus
at 18 cents and sections of World Reprints of Literature
at 12 cents a section come in, in the book trade.
"Yes, Judge!" said the manager to the next customer, a
huge, dignified personage in a wide-awake hat, "sea
stories? Certainly. Excellent reading, no doubt, when
the brain is overcharged as yours must be. Here is the
very latest—Among the Monkeys of New Guinea, ten dollars,
reduced to four-fifty. The manufacture alone costs
six-eighty. We're selling it out. Thank you, Judge. Send
it? Yes. Good morning."
After that the customers came and went in a string. I
noticed that though the store was filled with books—ten
thousand of them, at a guess—Mr. Sellyer was apparently
only selling two. Every woman who entered went away with
Golden Dreams: every man was given a copy of the Monkeys
of New Guinea. To one lady Golden Dreams was sold as
exactly the reading for a holiday, to another as the very
book to read AFTER a holiday; another bought it as a book
for a rainy day, and a fourth as the right sort of reading
for a fine day. The Monkeys was sold as a sea story, a
land story, a story of the jungle, and a story of the
mountains, and it was put at a price corresponding to
Mr. Sellyer's estimate of the purchaser.
At last after a busy two hours, the store grew empty for
"Wilfred," said Mr. Sellyer, turning to his chief assistant,
"I am going out to lunch. Keep those two books running
as hard as you can. We'll try them for another day and
then cut them right out. And I'll drop round to Dockem
& Discount, the publishers, and make a kick about them,
and see what they'll do."
I felt that I had lingered long enough. I drew near with
the Epictetus in my hand.
"Yes, sir," said Mr. Sellyer, professional again in a
moment. "Epictetus? A charming thing. Eighteen cents.
Thank you. Perhaps we have some other things there that
might interest you. We have a few second-hand things in
the alcove there that you might care to look at. There's
an Aristotle, two volumes—a very fine thing—practically
illegible, that you might like: and a Cicero came in
yesterday—very choice—damaged by damp—and I think we
have a Machiavelli, quite exceptional—practically torn
to pieces, and the covers gone—a very rare old thing,
sir, if you're an expert."
"No, thanks," I said. And then from a curiosity that had
been growing in me and that I couldn't resist, "That
book—Golden Dreams," I said, "you seem to think it a
very wonderful work?"
Mr. Sellyer directed one of his shrewd glances at me. He
knew I didn't want to buy the book, and perhaps, like
lesser people, he had his off moments of confidence.
He shook his head.
"A bad business," he said. "The publishers have unloaded
the thing on us, and we have to do what we can. They're
stuck with it, I understand, and they look to us to help
them. They're advertising it largely and may pull it
off. Of course, there's just a chance. One can't tell.
It's just possible we may get the church people down on
it and if so we're all right. But short of that we'll
never make it. I imagine it's perfectly rotten."
"Haven't you read it?" I asked.
"Dear me, no!" said the manager. His air was that of a
milkman who is offered a glass of his own milk. "A pretty
time I'd have if I tried to READ the new books. It's
quite enough to keep track of them without that."
"But those people," I went on, deeply perplexed, "who
bought the book. Won't they be disappointed?"
Mr. Sellyer shook his head. "Oh, no," he said; "you see,
they won't READ it. They never do."
"But at any rate," I insisted, "your wife thought it a
Mr. Sellyer smiled widely.
"I am not married, sir," he said.
AFTERNOON ADVENTURES AT MY CLUB
1.—The Anecdotes of Dr. So and So
That is not really his name. I merely call him that from
his manner of talking.
His specialty is telling me short anecdotes of his
professional life from day to day.
They are told with wonderful dash and power, except for
one slight omission, which is, that you never know what
the doctor is talking about. Beyond this, his little
stories are of unsurpassed interest—but let me illustrate.
. . . . . . .
He came into the semi-silence room of the club the other
day and sat down beside me.
"Have something or other?" he said.
"No, thanks," I answered.
"Smoke anything?" he asked.
The doctor turned to me. He evidently wanted to talk.
"I've been having a rather peculiar experience," he said.
"Man came to me the other day—three or four weeks ago—and
said, 'Doctor, I feel out of sorts. I believe I've got
so and so.' 'Ah,' I said, taking a look at him, 'been
eating so and so, eh?' 'Yes,' he said. 'Very good,' I
said, 'take so and so.'
"Well, off the fellow went—I thought nothing of it—simply
wrote such and such in my note-book, such and such a
date, symptoms such and such—prescribed such and such,
and so forth, you understand?"
"Oh, yes, perfectly, doctor," I answered.
"Very good. Three days later—a ring at the bell in the
evening—my servant came to the surgery. 'Mr. So and So
is here. Very anxious to see you.' 'All right!' I went
down. There he was, with every symptom of so and so
written all over him—every symptom of it—this and this
"Awful symptoms, doctor," I said, shaking my head.
"Are they not?" he said, quite unaware that he hadn't
named any. "There he was with every symptom, heart so
and so, eyes so and so, pulse this—I looked at him right
in the eye and I said—'Do you want me to tell you the
truth?' 'Yes,' he said. 'Very good,' I answered, 'I will.
You've got so and so.' He fell back as if shot. 'So and
so!' he repeated, dazed. I went to the sideboard and
poured him out a drink of such and such. 'Drink this,'
I said. He drank it. 'Now,' I said, 'listen to what I
say: You've got so and so. There's only one chance,' I
said, 'you must limit your eating and drinking to such
and such, you must sleep such and such, avoid every form
of such and such—I'll give you a cordial, so many drops
every so long, but mind you, unless you do so and so, it
won't help you.' 'All right, very good.' Fellow promised.
Off he went."
The doctor paused a minute and then resumed:
"Would you believe it—two nights later, I saw the
fellow—after the theatre, in a restaurant—whole party
of people—big plate of so and so in front of him—quart
bottle of so and so on ice—such and such and so forth.
I stepped over to him—tapped him on the shoulder: 'See
here,' I said, 'if you won't obey my instructions, you
can't expect me to treat you.' I walked out of the place."
"And what happened to him?" I asked.
"Died," said the doctor, in a satisfied tone. "Died.
I've just been filling in the certificate: So and so,
aged such and such, died of so and so!"
"An awful disease," I murmured.
2.—The Shattered Health of Mr. Podge
"How are you, Podge?" I said, as I sat down in a leather
armchair beside him.
I only meant "How-do-you-do?" but he rolled his big eyes
sideways at me in his flabby face (it was easier than
moving his face) and he answered:
"I'm not as well to-day as I was yesterday afternoon.
Last week I was feeling pretty good part of the time,
but yesterday about four o'clock the air turned humid,
and I don't feel so well."
"Have a cigarette?" I said.
"No, thanks; I find they affect the bronchial toobes."
"Whose?" I asked.
"Mine," he answered.
"Oh, yes," I said, and I lighted one. "So you find the
weather trying," I continued cheerfully.
"Yes, it's too humid. It's up to a saturation of sixty-six.
I'm all right till it passes sixty-four. Yesterday
afternoon it was only about sixty-one, and I felt fine.
But after that it went up. I guess it must be a contraction
of the epidermis pressing on some of the sebaceous glands,
"I'm sure it is," I said. "But why don't you just sleep
it off till it's over?"
"I don't like to sleep too much," he answered. "I'm
afraid of it developing into hypersomnia. There are cases
where it's been known to grow into a sort of lethargy
that pretty well stops all brain action altogether—"
"That would be too bad," I murmured. "What do you do to
"I generally drink from half to three-quarters of a cup
of black coffee, or nearly black, every morning at from
eleven to five minutes past, so as to keep off hypersomnia.
It's the best thing, the doctor says."
"Aren't you afraid," I said, "of its keeping you awake?"
"I am," answered Podge, and a spasm passed over his big
yellow face. "I'm always afraid of insomnia. That's the
worst thing of all. The other night I went to bed about
half-past ten, or twenty-five minutes after,—I forget
which,—and I simply couldn't sleep. I couldn't. I read
a magazine story, and I still couldn't; and I read another,
and still I couldn't sleep. It scared me bad."
"Oh, pshaw," I said; "I don't think sleep matters as long
as one eats properly and has a good appetite."
He shook his head very dubiously. "I ate a plate of soup
at lunch," he said, "and I feel it still."
"You FEEL it!"
"Yes," repeated Podge, rolling his eyes sideways in a
pathetic fashion that he had, "I still feel it. I oughtn't
to have eaten it. It was some sort of a bean soup, and
of course it was full of nitrogen. I oughtn't to touch
nitrogen," he added, shaking his head.
"Not take any nitrogen?" I repeated.
"No, the doctor—both doctors—have told me that. I can
eat starches, and albumens, all right, but I have to keep
right away from all carbons and nitrogens. I've been
dieting that way for two years, except that now and again
I take a little glucose or phosphates."
"That must be a nice change," I said, cheerfully.
"It is," he answered in a grateful sort of tone.
There was a pause. I looked at his big twitching face,
and listened to the heavy wheezing of his breath, and I
felt sorry for him.
"See here, Podge," I said, "I want to give you some good
"About your health."
"Yes, yes, do," he said. Advice about his health was
right in his line. He lived on it.
"Well, then, cut out all this fool business of diet and
drugs and nitrogen. Don't bother about anything of the
sort. Forget it. Eat everything you want to, just when
you want it. Drink all you like. Smoke all you can—and
you'll feel a new man in a week."
"Say, do you think so!" he panted, his eyes filled with
a new light.
"I know it," I answered. And as I left him I shook hands
with a warm feeling about my heart of being a benefactor
to the human race.
Next day, sure enough, Podge's usual chair at the club
"Out getting some decent exercise," I thought. "Thank
Nor did he come the next day, nor the next, nor for a
"Leading a rational life at last," I thought. "Out in
the open getting a little air and sunlight, instead of
sitting here howling about his stomach."
The day after that I saw Dr. Slyder in black clothes
glide into the club in that peculiar manner of his, like
an amateur undertaker.
"Hullo, Slyder," I called to him, "you look as solemn as
if you had been to a funeral."
"I have," he said very quietly, and then added, "poor
"What about him?" I asked with sudden apprehension.
"Why, he died on Tuesday," answered the doctor. "Hadn't
you heard? Strangest case I've known in years. Came home
suddenly one day, pitched all his medicines down the
kitchen sink, ordered a couple of cases of champagne and
two hundred havanas, and had his housekeeper cook a dinner
like a Roman banquet! After being under treatment for
two years! Lived, you know, on the narrowest margin
conceivable. I told him and Silk told him—we all told
him—his only chance was to keep away from every form of
nitrogenous ultra-stimulants. I said to him often, 'Podge,
if you touch heavy carbonized food, you're lost.'"
"Dear me," I thought to myself, "there ARE such things
"It was a marvel," continued Slyder, "that we kept him
alive at all. And, of course"—here the doctor paused
to ring the bell to order two Manhattan cocktails—"as
soon as he touched alcohol he was done."
So that was the end of the valetudinarianism of Mr. Podge.
I have always considered that I killed him.
But anyway, he was a nuisance at the club.
3.—The Amazing Travels of Mr. Yarner
There was no fault to be found with Mr. Yarner till he
made his trip around the world.
It was that, I think, which disturbed his brain and
unfitted him for membership in the club.
"Well," he would say, as he sat ponderously down with
the air of a man opening an interesting conversation, "I
was just figuring it out that eleven months ago to-day
I was in Pekin."
"That's odd," I said, "I was just reckoning that eleven
days ago I was in Poughkeepsie."
"They don't call it Pekin over there," he said. "It's
"I know," I said, "it's the same way with Poughkeepsie,
they pronounce it P'Keepsie."
"The Chinese," he went on musingly, "are a strange people."
"So are the people in P'Keepsie," I added, "awfully
That kind of retort would sometimes stop him, but not
always. He was especially dangerous if he was found with
a newspaper in his hand; because that meant that some
item of foreign intelligence had gone to his brain.
Not that I should have objected to Yarner describing his
travels. Any man who has bought a ticket round the world
and paid for it, is entitled to that.
But it was his manner of discussion that I considered
Last week, for example, in an unguarded moment I fell a
victim. I had been guilty of the imprudence—I forget in
what connection—of speaking of lions. I realized at
once that I had done wrong—lions, giraffes, elephants,
rickshaws and natives of all brands, are topics to avoid
in talking with a traveller.
"Speaking of lions," began Yarner.
He was right, of course; I HAD spoken of lions.
"—I shall never forget," he went on (of course, I knew
he never would), "a rather bad scrape I got into in the
up-country of Uganda. Imagine yourself in a wild, rolling
country covered here and there with kwas along the sides
of the nullahs."
I did so.
"Well," continued Yarner, "we were sitting in our tent
one hot night—too hot to sleep—when all at once we
heard, not ten feet in front of us, the most terrific
roar that ever came from the throat of a lion."
As he said this Yarner paused to take a gulp of bubbling
whiskey and soda and looked at me so ferociously that I
Then quite suddenly his manner cooled down in the strangest
way, and his voice changed to a commonplace tone as he
"Perhaps I ought to explain that we hadn't come up to
the up-country looking for big game. In fact, we had
been down in the down country with no idea of going higher
than Mombasa. Indeed, our going even to Mombasa itself
was more or less an afterthought. Our first plan was to
strike across from Aden to Singapore. But our second
plan was to strike direct from Colombo to Karuchi—"
"And what was your THIRD plan?" I asked.
"Our third plan," said Yarner deliberately, feeling that
the talk was now getting really interesting, "let me see,
our third plan was to cut across from Socotra to
"Oh, yes," I said.
"However, all that was changed, and changed under the
strangest circumstances. We were sitting, Gallon and I,
on the piazza of the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo—you
know the Galle Face?"
"No, I do not," I said very positively.
"Very good. Well, I was sitting on the piazza watching
a snake charmer who was seated, with a boa, immediately
in front of me.
"Poor Gallon was actually within two feet of the hideous
reptile. All of a sudden the beast whirled itself into
a coil, its eyes fastened with hideous malignity on poor
Gallon, and with its head erect it emitted the most awful
hiss I have heard proceed from the mouth of any living
Here Yarner paused and took a long, hissing drink of
whiskey and soda: and then as the malignity died out of
"I should explain," he went on, very quietly, "that Gallon
was not one of our original party. We had come down to
Colombo from Mongolia, going by the Pekin Hankow and the
Nippon Yushen Keisha."
"That, I suppose, is the best way?" I said.
"Yes. And oddly enough but for the accident of Gallon
joining us, we should have gone by the Amoy, Cochin,
Singapore route, which was our first plan. In fact, but
for Gallon we should hardly have got through China at
all. The Boxer insurrection had taken place only fourteen
years before our visit, so you can imagine the awful
state of the country.
"Our meeting with Gallon was thus absolutely providential.
Looking back on it, I think it perhaps saved our lives.
We were in Mongolia (this, you understand, was before we
reached China), and had spent the night at a small Yak
about four versts from Kharbin, when all of a sudden,
just outside the miserable hut that we were in, we heard
a perfect fusillade of shots followed immediately afterwards
by one of the most blood-curdling and terrifying screams
I have ever imagined—"
"Oh, yes," I said, "and that was how you met Gallon.
Well, I must be off."
And as I happened at that very moment to be rescued by
an incoming friend, who took but little interest in lions,
and even less in Yarner, I have still to learn why the
lion howled so when it met Yarner. But surely the lion
had reason enough.
4.—The Spiritual Outlook of Mr. Doomer
One generally saw old Mr. Doomer looking gloomily out of
the windows of the library of the club. If not there, he
was to be found staring sadly into the embers of a dying
fire in a deserted sitting-room.
His gloom always appeared out of place as he was one of
the richest of the members.
But the cause of it,—as I came to know,—was that he
was perpetually concerned with thinking about the next
world. In fact he spent his whole time brooding over it.
I discovered this accidentally by happening to speak to
him of the recent death of Podge, one of our fellow
"Very sad," I said, "Podge's death."
"Ah," returned Mr. Doomer, "very shocking. He was quite
unprepared to die."
"Do you think so?" I said, "I'm awfully sorry to hear
"Quite unprepared," he answered. "I had reason to know
it as one of his executors,—everything is
confusion,—nothing signed,—no proper power of
attorney,—codicils drawn up in blank and never
witnessed,—in short, sir, no sense apparently of the
nearness of his death and of his duty to be prepared.
"I suppose," I said, "poor Podge didn't realise that he
was going to die."
"Ah, that's just it," resumed Mr. Doomer with something
like sternness, "a man OUGHT to realise it. Every man
ought to feel that at any moment,—one can't tell when,—day
or night,—he may be called upon to meet his,"—Mr.
Doomer paused here as if seeking a phrase—"to meet his
Financial Obligations, face to face. At any time, sir,
he may be hurried before the Judge,—or rather his estate
may be,—before the Judge of the probate court. It is
a solemn thought, sir. And yet when I come here I see
about me men laughing, talking, and playing billiards,
as if there would never be a day when their estate would
pass into the hands of their administrators and an account
must be given of every cent."
"But after all," I said, trying to fall in with his mood,
"death and dissolution must come to all of us."
"That's just it," he said solemnly. "They've dissolved
the tobacco people, and they've dissolved the oil people
and you can't tell whose turn it may be next."
Mr. Doomer was silent a moment and then resumed, speaking
in a tone of humility that was almost reverential.
"And yet there is a certain preparedness for death, a
certain fitness to die that we ought all to aim at. Any
man can at least think solemnly of the Inheritance Tax,
and reflect whether by a contract inter vivos drawn in
blank he may not obtain redemption; any man if he thinks
death is near may at least divest himself of his purely
speculative securities and trust himself entirely to
those gold bearing bonds of the great industrial
corporations whose value will not readily diminish or
pass away." Mr. Doomer was speaking with something like
"And yet what does one see?" he continued. "Men affected
with fatal illness and men stricken in years occupied
still with idle talk and amusements instead of reading
the financial newspapers,—and at the last carried away
with scarcely time perhaps to send for their brokers when
it is already too late."
"It is very sad," I said.
"Very," he repeated, "and saddest of all, perhaps, is
the sense of the irrevocability of death and the changes
that must come after it."
We were silent a moment.
"You think of these things a great deal, Mr. Doomer?"
"I do," he answered. "It may be that it is something in
my temperament, I suppose one would call it a sort of
spiritual mindedness. But I think of it all constantly.
Often as I stand here beside the window and see these
cars go by"—he indicated a passing street car—"I cannot
but realise that the time will come when I am no longer
a managing director and wonder whether they will keep on
trying to hold the dividend down by improving the rolling
stock or will declare profits to inflate the securities.
These mysteries beyond the grave fascinate me, sir. Death
is a mysterious thing. Who for example will take my seat
on the Exchange? What will happen to my majority control
of the power company? I shudder to think of the changes
that may happen after death in the assessment of my real
"Yes," I said, "it is all beyond our control, isn't it?"
"Quite," answered Mr. Doomer; "especially of late years
one feels that, all said and done, we are in the hands
of a Higher Power, and that the State Legislature is
after all supreme. It gives one a sense of smallness.
It makes one feel that in these days of drastic legislation
with all one's efforts the individual is lost and absorbed
in the controlling power of the state legislature. Consider
the words that are used in the text of the Income Tax
Case, Folio Two, or the text of the Trans-Missouri Freight
Decision, and think of the revelation they contain."
I left Mr. Doomer still standing beside the window, musing
on the vanity of life and on things, such as the future
control of freight rates, that lay beyond the grave.
I noticed as I left him how broken and aged he had come
to look. It seemed as if the chafings of the spirit were
wearing the body that harboured it.
It was about a month later that I learned of Mr. Doomer's
Dr. Slyder told me of it in the club one afternoon, over
two cocktails in the sitting-room.
"A beautiful bedside," he said, "one of the most edifying
that I have ever attended. I knew that Doomer was failing
and of course the time came when I had to tell him.
"'Mr. Doomer,' I said, 'all that I, all that any medical
can do for you is done; you are going to die. I have to
warn you that it is time for other ministrations than
"'Very good,' he said faintly but firmly, 'send for my
"They sent out and fetched Jarvis,—you know him I
think,—most sympathetic man and yet most business-like—he
does all the firm's business with the dying,—and we two
sat beside Doomer holding him up while he signed stock
transfers and blank certificates.
"Once he paused and turned his eyes on Jarvis. 'Read me
from the text of the State Inheritance Tax Statute,' he
said. Jarvis took the book and read aloud very quietly
and simply the part at the beginning—'Whenever and
wheresoever it shall appear,' down to the words, 'shall
be no longer a subject of judgment or appeal but shall
remain in perpetual possession.'
"Doomer listened with his eyes closed. The reading seemed
to bring him great comfort. When Jarvis ended he said
with a sign, 'That covers it. I'll put my faith in that.'
After that he was silent a moment and then said: 'I wish
I had already crossed the river. Oh, to have already
crossed the river and be safe on the other side.' We knew
what he meant. He had always planned to move over to New
Jersey. The inheritance tax is so much more liberal.
"Presently it was all done.
"'There,' I said, 'it is finished now.'
"'No,' he answered, 'there is still one thing. Doctor,
you've been very good to me. I should like to pay your
account now without it being a charge on the estate. I
will pay it as'—he paused for a moment and a fit of
coughing seized him, but by an effort of will he found
the power to say—'cash.'
"I took the account from my pocket (I had it with me,
fearing the worst), and we laid his cheque-book before
him on the bed. Jarvis thinking him too faint to write
tried to guide his hand as he filled in the sum. But he
shook his head.
"'The room is getting dim,' he said. 'I can see nothing
but the figures.'
"'Never mind,' said Jarvis,—much moved, 'that's enough.'
"'Is it four hundred and thirty?' he asked faintly.
"'Yes,' I said, and I could feel the tears rising in my
eyes, 'and fifty cents.'
"After signing the cheque his mind wandered for a moment
and he fell to talking, with his eyes closed, of the new
federal banking law, and of the prospect of the reserve
associations being able to maintain an adequate gold
"Just at the last he rallied.
"'I want,' he said in quite a firm voice, 'to do something
for both of you before I die.'
"'Yes, yes,' we said.
"'You are both interested, are you not,' he murmured,
'in City Traction?'
"'Yes, yes,' we said. We knew of course that he was the
"He looked at us faintly and tried to speak.
"'Give him a cordial,' said Jarvis. But he found his
"'The value of that stock,' he said, 'is going to take
"His voice grew faint.
"'Yes, yes,' I whispered, bending over him (there were
tears in both our eyes), 'tell me is it going up, or
"'It is going'—he murmured,—then his eyes closed—'it
"'Yes, yes,' I said, 'which?'
"'It is going'—he repeated feebly and then, quite suddenly
he fell back on the pillows and his soul passed. And we
never knew which way it was going. It was very sad. Later
on, of course, after he was dead, we knew, as everybody
knew, that it went down."
5.—The Reminiscences of Mr. Apricot
"Rather a cold day, isn't it?" I said as I entered the
The man I addressed popped his head out from behind a
newspaper and I saw it was old Mr. Apricot. So I was
sorry that I had spoken.
"Not so cold as the winter of 1866," he said, beaming
He had an egg-shaped head, bald, with some white hair
fluffed about the sides of it. He had a pink face with
large blue eyes, behind his spectacles, benevolent to
the verge of imbecility.
"Was that a cold winter?" I asked.
"Bitter cold," he said. "I have never told you, have I,
of my early experiences in life?"
"I think I have heard you mention them," I murmured, but
he had already placed a detaining hand on my sleeve. "Sit
down," he said. Then he continued: "Yes, it was a cold
winter. I was going to say that it was the coldest I
have ever experienced, but that might be an exaggeration.
But it was certainly colder than any winter that YOU have
ever seen, or that we ever have now, or are likely to
have. In fact the winters NOW are a mere nothing,"—here
Mr. Apricot looked toward the club window where the driven
snow was beating in eddies against the panes,—"simply
nothing. One doesn't feel them at all,"—here he turned
his eyes towards the glowing fire that flamed in the open
fireplace. "But when I was a boy things were very different.
I have probably never mentioned to you, have I, the
circumstances of my early life?"
He had, many times. But he had turned upon me the full
beam of his benevolent spectacles and I was too weak to
"My father," went on Mr. Apricot, settling back in his
chair and speaking with a far-away look in his eyes, "had
settled on the banks of the Wabash River—"
"Oh, yes, I know it well," I interjected.
"Not as it was THEN," said Mr. Apricot very quickly. "At
present as you, or any other thoughtless tourist sees
it, it appears a broad river pouring its vast flood in
all directions. At the time I speak of it was a mere
stream scarcely more than a few feet in circumference.
The life we led there was one of rugged isolation and of
sturdy self-reliance and effort such as it is, of course,
quite impossible for YOU, or any other member of this
club to understand,—I may give you some idea of what
I mean when I say that at that time there was no town
nearer to Pittsburgh than Chicago, or to St. Paul than
"Impossible!" I said.
Mr. Apricot seemed not to notice the interruption.
"There was no place nearer to Springfield than St. Louis,"
he went on in a peculiar singsong voice, "and there was
nothing nearer to Denver than San Francisco, nor to New
Orleans than Rio Janeiro—"
He seemed as if he would go on indefinitely.
"You were speaking of your father?" I interrupted.
"My father," said Mr. Apricot, "had settled on the banks,
both banks, of the Wabash. He was like so many other
men of his time, a disbanded soldier, a veteran—"
"Of the Mexican War or of the Civil War?" I asked.
"Exactly," answered Mr. Apricot, hardly heeding the
question,—"of the Mexican Civil War."
"Was he under Lincoln?" I asked.
"OVER Lincoln," corrected Mr. Apricot gravely. And he
added,—"It is always strange to me the way in which the
present generation regards Abraham Lincoln. To us, of
course, at the time of which I speak, Lincoln was simply
one of ourselves."
"In 1866?" I asked.
"This was 1856," said Mr. Apricot. "He came often to my
father's cabin, sitting down with us to our humble meal
of potatoes and whiskey (we lived with a simplicity which
of course you could not possibly understand), and would
spend the evening talking with my father over the
interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.
We children used to stand beside them listening open-mouthed
beside the fire in our plain leather night-gowns. I shall
never forget how I was thrilled when I first heard Lincoln
lay down his famous theory of the territorial jurisdiction
of Congress as affected by the Supreme Court decision of
1857. I was only nine years old at the time, but it
"Is it possible!" I exclaimed, "how ever could you
"Ah! my friend," said Mr. Apricot, almost sadly, "in
THOSE days the youth of the United States were EDUCATED
in the real sense of the word. We children followed the
decisions of the Supreme Court with breathless interest.
Our books were few but they were GOOD. We had nothing to
read but the law reports, the agriculture reports, the
weather bulletins and the almanacs. But we read them
carefully from cover to cover. How few boys have the
industry to do so now, and yet how many of our greatest
men were educated on practically nothing else except the
law reports and the almanacs. Franklin, Jefferson,
Jackson, Johnson,"—Mr. Apricot had relapsed into his
sing-song voice, and his eye had a sort of misty perplexity
in it as he went on,—"Harrison, Thomson, Peterson,
I thought it better to stop him.
"But you were speaking," I said, "of the winter of eighteen
"Of eighteen forty-six," corrected Mr. Apricot. "I shall
never forget it. How distinctly I remember,—I was only
a boy then, in fact a mere lad,—fighting my way to
school. The snow lay in some places as deep as ten feet"—
Mr. Apricot paused—"and in others twenty. But we made
our way to school in spite of it. No boys of to-day,—nor,
for the matter of that, even men such as you,—would
think of attempting it. But we were keen, anxious to
learn. Our school was our delight. Our teacher was our
friend. Our books were our companions. We gladly trudged
five miles to school every morning and seven miles back
at night, did chores till midnight, studied algebra by
candlelight"—here Mr. Apricot's voice had fallen into
its characteristic sing-song, and his eyes were
vacant—"rose before daylight, dressed by lamplight, fed
the hogs by lantern-light, fetched the cows by twilight—"
I thought it best to stop him.
"But you did eventually get off the farm, did you not?"
"Yes," he answered, "my opportunity presently came to me
as it came in those days to any boy of industry and
intelligence who knocked at the door of fortune till it
opened. I shall never forget how my first chance in life
came to me. A man, an entire stranger, struck no doubt
with the fact that I looked industrious and willing,
offered me a dollar to drive a load of tan bark to the
"Where was that?" I asked.
"Minneapolis, seven hundred miles. But I did it. I shall
never forget my feelings when I found myself in Minneapolis
with one dollar in my pocket and with the world all before
"What did you do?" I said.
"First," said Mr. Apricot, "I laid out seventy-five cents
for a suit of clothes (things were cheap in those days);
for fifty cents I bought an overcoat, for twenty-five I
got a hat, for ten cents a pair of boots, and with the
rest of my money I took a room for a month with a Swedish
family, paid a month's board with a German family, arranged
to have my washing done by an Irish family, and—"
"But surely, Mr. Apricot—" I began.
But at this point the young man who is generally in
attendance on old Mr. Apricot when he comes to the club,
appeared on the scene.
"I am afraid," he said to me aside as Mr. Apricot was
gathering up his newspapers and his belongings, "that my
uncle has been rather boring you with his reminiscences."
"Not at all," I said, "he's been telling me all about
his early life in his father's cabin on the Wabash—"
"I was afraid so," said the young man. "Too bad. You see
he wasn't really there at all."
"Not there!" I said.
"No. He only fancies that he was. He was brought up in
New York, and has never been west of Philadelphia. In
fact he has been very well to do all his life. But he
found that it counted against him: it hurt him in politics.
So he got into the way of talking about the Middle West
and early days there, and sometimes he forgets that he
"I see," I said.
Meantime Mr. Apricot was ready.
"Good-bye, good-bye," he said very cheerily,—"A delightful
chat. We must have another talk over old times soon. I
must tell you about my first trip over the Plains at the
time when I was surveying the line of the Union Pacific.
You who travel nowadays in your Pullman coaches and
observation cars can have no idea—"
"Come along, uncle," said the young man.
6.—The Last Man out of Europe
He came into the club and shook hands with me as if he
hadn't seen me for a year. In reality I had seen him only
eleven months ago, and hadn't thought of him since.
"How are you, Parkins?" I said in a guarded tone, for I
saw at once that there was something special in his
"Have a cig?" he said as he sat down on the edge of an
arm-chair, dangling his little boot.
Any young man who calls a cigarette a "cig" I despise.
"No, thanks," I said.
"Try one," he went on, "they're Hungarian. They're some
I managed to bring through with me out of the war zone."
As he said "war zone," his face twisted up into a sort
of scowl of self-importance.
I looked at Parkins more closely and I noticed that he
had on some sort of foolish little coat, short in the
back, and the kind of bow-tie that they wear in the
Hungarian bands of the Sixth Avenue restaurants.
Then I knew what the trouble was. He was the last man
out of Europe, that is to say, the latest last man. There
had been about fourteen others in the club that same
afternoon. In fact they were sitting all over it in
Italian suits and Viennese overcoats, striking German
matches on the soles of Dutch boots. These were the "war
zone" men and they had just got out "in the clothes they
stood up in." Naturally they hated to change.
So I knew all that this young man, Parkins, was going to
say, and all about his adventures before he began.
"Yes," he said, "we were caught right in the war zone.
By Jove, I never want to go through again what I went
With that, he sank back into the chair in the pose of a
man musing in silence over the recollection of days of
I let him muse. In fact I determined to let him muse till
he burst before I would ask him what he had been through.
I knew it, anyway.
Presently he decided to go on talking.
"We were at Izzl," he said, "in the Carpathians, Loo
Jones and I. We'd just made a walking tour from Izzl to
Fryzzl and back again."
"Why did you come back?" I asked.
"Back to Izzl," I explained, "after you'd once got to
Fryzzl. It seems unnecessary, but, never mind, go on."
"That was in July," he continued. "There wasn't a sign
of war, not a sign. We heard that Russia was beginning
to mobilize," (at this word be blew a puff from his
cigarette and then repeated "beginning to mobilize") "but
we thought nothing of it."
"Of course not," I said.
"Then we heard that Hungary was calling out the Honveds,
but we still thought nothing of it."
"Certainly not," I said.
"And then we heard—"
"Yes, I know," I said, "you heard that Italy was calling
out the Trombonari, and that Germany was calling in all
He looked at me.
"How did you know that?" he said.
"We heard it over here," I answered.
"Well," he went on, "next thing we knew we heard that
the Russians were at Fryzzl."
"Great Heavens!" I exclaimed.
"Yes, at Fryzzl, not a hundred miles away. The very
place we'd been at only two weeks before."
"Think of it!" I said. "If you'd been where you were two
weeks after you were there, or if the Russians had been
a hundred miles away from where they were, or even if
Fryzzl had been a hundred miles nearer to Izzl—"
We both shuddered.
"It was a close call," said Parkins. "However, I said to
Loo Jones, 'Loo, it's time to clear out.' And then, I
tell you, our trouble began. First of all we couldn't
get any money. We went to the bank at Izzl and tried to
get them to give us American dollars for Hungarian paper
money; we had nothing else."
"And wouldn't they?"
"Absolutely refused. They said they hadn't any."
"By George," I exclaimed. "Isn't war dreadful? What on
earth did you do?"
"Took a chance," said Parkins. "Went across to the railway
station to buy our tickets with the Hungarian money."
"Did you get them?" I said.
"Yes," assented Parkins. "They said they'd sell us tickets.
But they questioned us mighty closely; asked where we
wanted to go to, what class we meant to travel by, how
much luggage we had to register and so on. I tell you
the fellow looked at us mighty closely."
"Were you in those clothes?" I asked.
"Yes," said Parkins, "but I guess he suspected we weren't
Hungarians. You see, we couldn't either of us speak
Hungarian. In fact we spoke nothing but English."
"That would give him a clue," I said.
"However," he went on, "he was civil enough in a way. We
asked when was the next train to the sea coast, and he
said there wasn't any."
"No trains?" I repeated.
"Not to the coast. The man said the reason was because
there wasn't any railway to the coast. But he offered to
sell us tickets to Vienna. We asked when the train would
go and he said there wouldn't be one for two hours. So
there we were waiting on that wretched little platform,—no
place to sit down, no shade, unless one went into the
waiting room itself,—for two mortal hours. And even then
the train was an hour and a half late!"
"An hour and a half late!" I repeated.
"Yep!" said Parkins, "that's what things were like over
there. So when we got on board the train we asked a man
when it was due to get to Vienna, and he said he hadn't
the faintest idea!"
"Not the faintest idea. He told us to ask the conductor
or one of the porters. No, sir, I'll never forget that
journey through to Vienna,—nine mortal hours! Nothing
to eat, not a bite, except just in the middle of the day
when they managed to hitch on a dining-car for a while.
And they warned everybody that the dining-car was only
on for an hour and a half. Commandeered, I guess after
that," added Parkins, puffing his cigarette.
"Well," he continued, "we got to Vienna at last. I'll
never forget the scene there, station full of people,
trains coming and going, men, even women, buying tickets,
big piles of luggage being shoved on trucks. It gave one
a great idea of the reality of things."
"It must have," I said.
"Poor old Loo Jones was getting pretty well used up with
it all. However, we determined to see it through somehow."
"What did you do next?"
"Tried again to get money: couldn't—they changed our
Hungarian paper into Italian gold, but they refused to
give us American money."
"Hoarding it?" I hinted.
"Exactly," said Parkins, "hoarding it all for the war.
Well anyhow we got on a train for Italy and there our
troubles began all over again:—train stopped at the
frontier,—officials (fellows in Italian uniforms) went
all through it, opening hand baggage—"
"Not hand baggage!" I gasped.
"Yes, sir, even the hand baggage. Opened it all, or a
lot of it anyway, and scribbled chalk marks over it. Yes,
and worse than that,—I saw them take two fellows and
sling them clear off the train,—they slung them right
out on to the platform."
"What for?" I asked.
"Heaven knows," said Parkins,—"they said they had no
tickets. In war time you know, when they're mobilizing,
they won't let a soul ride on a train without a ticket."
"Infernal tyranny," I murmured.
"Isn't it? However, we got to Genoa at last, only to find
that not a single one of our trunks had come with us!"
"Confiscated?" I asked.
"I don't know," said Parkins, "the head baggage man (he
wears a uniform, you know, in Italy just like a soldier)
said it was because we'd forgotten to check them in
Vienna. However there we were waiting for twenty-four
hours with nothing but our valises."
"Right at the station?" I asked.
"No, at a hotel. We got the trunks later. They telegraphed
to Vienna for them and managed to get them through
somehow,—in a baggage car, I believe."
"And after that, I suppose, you had no more trouble."
"Trouble," said Parkins, "I should say we had. Couldn't
get a steamer! They said there was none sailing out of
Genoa for New York for three days! All cancelled, I guess,
or else rigged up as cruisers."
"What on earth did you do?"
"Stuck it out as best we could: stayed right there in
the hotel. Poor old Jones was pretty well collapsed!
Couldn't do anything but sleep and eat, and sit on the
piazza of the hotel."
"But you got your steamer at last?" I asked.
"Yes," he admitted, "we got it. But I never want to go
through another voyage like that again, no sir!"
"What was wrong with it?" I asked, "bad weather?"
"No, calm, but a peculiar calm, glassy, with little
ripples on the water,—uncanny sort of feeling."
"What was wrong with the voyage?"
"Oh, just the feeling of it,—everything under strict
rule you know—no lights anywhere except just the electric
lights,—smoking-room closed tight at eleven o'clock,—decks
all washed down every night—officers up on the bridge
all day looking out over the sea,—no, sir, I want no
more of it. Poor old Loo Jones, I guess he's quite used
up: he can't speak of it at all: just sits and broods,
in fact I doubt…"
At this moment Parkins's conversation was interrupted by
the entry of two newcomers into the room. One of them
had on a little Hungarian suit like the one Parkins wore,
and was talking loudly as they came in.
"Yes," he was saying, "we were caught there fair and
square right in the war zone. We were at Izzl in the
Carpathians, poor old Parkins and I—"
We looked round.
It was Loo Jones, describing his escape from Europe.
7.—The War Mania of Mr. Jinks and Mr. Blinks
They were sitting face to face at a lunch table at the
club so near to me that I couldn't avoid hearing what
they said. In any case they are both stout men with
gurgling voices which carry.
"What Kitchener ought to do,"—Jinks was saying in a loud
So I knew at once that he had the prevailing hallucination.
He thought he was commanding armies in Europe.
After which I watched him show with three bits of bread
and two olives and a dessert knife the way in which the
German army could be destroyed.
Blinks looked at Jinks' diagram with a stern impassive
face, modelled on the Sunday supplement photogravures of
"Your flank would be too much exposed," he said, pointing
to Jinks' bread. He spoke with the hard taciturnity of
"My reserves cover it," said Jinks, moving two pepper
pots to the support of the bread.
"Mind you," Jinks went on, "I don't say Kitchener WILL
do this: I say this is what he OUGHT to do: it's exactly
the tactics of Kuropatkin outside of Mukden and it's
precisely the same turning movement that Grant used before
Blinks nodded gravely. Anybody who has seen the Grand
Duke Nicholoevitch quietly accepting the advice of General
Ruski under heavy artillery fire, will realize Blinks'
manner to a nicety.
And, oddly enough, neither of them, I am certain, has
ever had any larger ideas about the history of the Civil
War than what can be got from reading Uncle Tom's Cabin
and seeing Gillette play Secret Service. But this is part
of the mania. Jinks and Blinks had suddenly developed
the hallucination that they knew the history of all wars
by a sort of instinct.
They rose soon after that, dusted off their waistcoats
with their napkins and waddled heavily towards the door.
I could hear them as they went talking eagerly of the
need of keeping the troops in hard training. They were
almost brutal in their severity. As they passed out of
the door,—one at a time to avoid crowding,—they were
still talking about it. Jinks was saying that our whole
generation is overfed and soft. If he had his way he
would take every man in the United States up to forty-
seven years of age (Jinks is forty-eight) and train him
to a shadow. Blinks went further. He said they should
be trained hard up to fifty. He is fifty-one.
After that I used to notice Jinks and Blinks always
together in the club, and always carrying on the European
I never knew which side they were on. They seemed to be
on both. One day they commanded huge armies of Russians,
and there was one week when Blinks and Jinks at the head
of vast levies of Cossacks threatened to overrun the
whole of Western Europe. It was dreadful to watch them
burning churches and monasteries and to see Jinks throw
whole convents full of white robed nuns into the flames
like so much waste paper.
For a time I feared they would obliterate civilization
itself. Then suddenly Blinks decided that Jinks' Cossacks
were no good, not properly trained. He converted himself
on the spot into a Prussian Field Marshal, declared
himself organised to a pitch of organisation of which
Jinks could form no idea, and swept Jinks' army off the
earth, without using any men at all, by sheer organisation.
In this way they moved to and fro all winter over the
map of Europe, carrying death and destruction everywhere
and revelling in it.
But I think I liked best the wild excitement of their
Jinks generally fancied himself a submarine and Blinks
acted the part of a first-class battleship. Jinks would
pop his periscope out of the water, take a look at Blinks
merely for the fraction of a second, and then, like a
flash, would dive under water again and start firing his
torpedoes. He explained that he carried six.
But he was never quick enough for Blinks. One glimpse
of his periscope miles and miles away was enough. Blinks
landed him a contact shell in the side, sunk him with
all hands, and then lined his yards with men and cheered.
I have known Blinks sink Jinks at two miles, six miles—and
once—in the club billiard room just after the battle of
the Falkland Islands,—he got him fair and square at
ten nautical miles.
Jinks of course claimed that he was not sunk. He had
dived. He was two hundred feet under water quietly smiling
at Blinks through his periscope. In fact the number of
things that Jinks has learned to do through his periscope
Whenever I see him looking across at Blinks with his eyes
half closed and with a baffling, quizzical expression in
them, I know that he is looking at him through his
periscope. Now is the time for Blinks to watch out. If
he relaxes his vigilance for a moment he'll be torpedoed
as he sits, and sent flying, whiskey and soda and all,
through the roof of the club, while Jinks dives into the
Indeed it has come about of late, I don't know just how,
that Jinks has more or less got command of the sea. A
sort of tacit understanding has been reached that Blinks,
whichever army he happens at the moment to command, is
invincible on land. But Jinks, whether as a submarine or
a battleship, controls the sea. No doubt this grew up in
the natural evolution of their conversation. It makes
things easier for both. Jinks even asks Blinks how many
men there are in an army division, and what a sotnia of
Cossacks is and what the Army Service Corps means. And
Jinks in return has become a recognized expert in torpedoes
and has taken to wearing a blue serge suit and referring
to Lord Beresford as Charley.
But what I noticed chiefly about the war mania of Jinks
and Blinks was their splendid indifference to slaughter.
They had gone into the war with a grim resolution to
fight it out to a finish. If Blinks thought to terrify
Jinks by threatening to burn London, he little knew his
man. "All right," said Jinks, taking a fresh light for
his cigar, "burn it! By doing so, you destroy, let us
say, two million of my women and children? Very good. Am
I injured by that? No. You merely stimulate me to
There was something awful in the grimness of the struggle
as carried on by Blinks and Jinks.
The rights of neutrals and non-combatants, Red Cross
nurses, and regimental clergymen they laughed to scorn.
As for moving-picture men and newspaper correspondents,
Jinks and Blinks hanged them on every tree in Belgium
With combatants in this frame of mind the war I suppose
might have lasted forever.
But it came to an end accidentally,—fortuitously, as
all great wars are apt to. And by accident also, I happened
to see the end of it.
It was late one evening. Jinks and Blinks were coming
down the steps of the club, and as they came they were
speaking with some vehemence on their favourite topic.
"I tell you," Jinks was saying, "war is a great thing.
We needed it, Blinks. We were all getting too soft, too
scared of suffering and pain. We wilt at a bayonet charge,
we shudder at the thought of wounds. Bah!" he continued,
"what does it matter if a few hundred thousands of human
beings are cut to pieces. We need to get back again to
the old Viking standard, the old pagan ideas of suffering—"
And as he spoke he got it.
The steps of the club were slippery with the evening's
rain,—not so slippery as the frozen lakes of East Prussia
or the hills where Jinks and Blinks had been campaigning
all winter, but slippery enough for a stout man whose
nation has neglected his training. As Jinks waved his
stick in the air to illustrate the glory of a bayonet
charge, he slipped and fell sideways on the stone steps.
His shin bone smacked against the edge of the stone in
a way that was pretty well up to the old Viking standard
of such things. Blinks with the shock of the collision
fell also,—backwards on the top step, his head striking
first. He lay, to all appearance, as dead as the most
insignificant casualty in Servia.
I watched the waiters carrying them into the club, with
that new field ambulance attitude towards pain which is
getting so popular. They had evidently acquired precisely
the old pagan attitude that Blinks and Jinks desired.
And the evening after that I saw Blinks and Jinks, both
more or less bandaged, sitting in a corner of the club
beneath a rubber tree, making peace.
Jinks was moving out of Montenegro and Blinks was foregoing
all claims to Polish Prussia; Jinks was offering
Alsace-Lorraine to Blinks, and Blinks in a fit of chivalrous
enthusiasm was refusing to take it. They were disbanding
troops, blowing up fortresses, sinking their warships
and offering indemnities which they both refused to take.
Then as they talked, Jinks leaned forward and said
something to Blinks in a low voice,—a final proposal of
Blinks nodded, and Jinks turned and beckoned to a waiter,
with the words,—
"One Scotch whiskey and soda, and one stein of Wurtemburger
And when I heard this, I knew that the war was over.
8.—The Ground Floor
I hadn't seen Ellesworth since our college days, twenty
years before, at the time when he used to borrow two
dollars and a half from the professor of Public Finance
to tide him over the week end.
Then quite suddenly he turned up at the club one day and
had afternoon tea with me.
His big clean shaven face had lost nothing of its
impressiveness, and his spectacles had the same glittering
magnetism as in the days when he used to get the college
bursar to accept his note of hand for his fees.
And he was still talking European politics just as he
used to in the days of our earlier acquaintance.
"Mark my words," he said across the little tea-table,
with one of the most piercing glances I have ever seen,
"the whole Balkan situation was only a beginning. We are
on the eve of a great pan-Slavonic upheaval." And then
he added, in a very quiet, casual tone: "By the way,
could you let me have twenty-five dollars till to-morrow?"
"A pan-Slavonic movement!" I ejaculated. "Do you really
think it possible? No, I couldn't."
"You must remember," Ellesworth went on, "Russia means
to reach out and take all she can get;" and he added,
"how about fifteen till Friday?"
"She may reach for it," I said, "but I doubt if she'll
get anything. I'm sorry. I haven't got it."
"You're forgetting the Bulgarian element," he continued,
his animation just as eager as before. "The Slavs never
forget what they owe to one another."
Here Ellesworth drank a sip of tea and then said quietly,
"Could you make it ten till Saturday at twelve?"
I looked at him more closely. I noticed now his frayed
cuffs and the dinginess of his over-brushed clothes. Not
even the magnetism of his spectacles could conceal it.
Perhaps I had been forgetting something, whether the
Bulgarian element or not.
I compromised at ten dollars till Saturday.
"The Slav," said Ellesworth, as he pocketed the money,
"is peculiar. He never forgets."
"What are you doing now?" I asked him. "Are you still
in insurance?" I had a vague recollection of him as
employed in that business.
"No," he answered. "I gave it up. I didn't like the
outlook. It was too narrow. The atmosphere cramped me.
I want," he said, "a bigger horizon."
"Quite so," I answered quietly. I had known men before
who had lost their jobs. It is generally the cramping of
the atmosphere that does it. Some of them can use up a
tremendous lot of horizon.
"At present," Ellesworth went on, "I am in finance. I'm
"Oh, yes," I said. I had seen companies promoted before.
"Just now," continued Ellesworth, "I'm working on a thing
that I think will be rather a big thing. I shouldn't want
it talked about outside, but it's a matter of taking hold
of the cod fisheries of the Grand Banks,—practically
amalgamating them—and perhaps combining with them the
entire herring output, and the whole of the sardine catch
of the Mediterranean. If it goes through," he added, "I
shall be in a position to let you in on the ground floor."
I knew the ground floor of old. I have already many
friends sitting on it; and others who have fallen through
it into the basement.
I said, "thank you," and he left me.
"That was Ellesworth, wasn't it?" said a friend of mine
who was near me. "Poor devil. I knew him slightly,—always
full of some new and wild idea of making money. He was
talking to me the other day of the possibility of cornering
all the huckleberry crop and making refined sugar. Isn't
it amazing what fool ideas fellows like him are always
putting up to business men?"
We both laughed.
After that I didn't see Ellesworth for some weeks.
Then I met him in the club again. How he paid his fees
there I do not know.
This time he was seated among a litter of foreign newspapers
with a cup of tea and a ten-cent package of cigarettes
"Have one of these cigarettes," he said. "I get them
specially. They are milder than what we have in the club
They certainly were.
"Note what I say," Ellesworth went on. "The French
Republic is going to gain from now on a stability that
it never had." He seemed greatly excited about it. But
his voice changed to a quiet tone as he added, "Could
you, without inconvenience, let me have five dollars?"
So I knew that the cod-fish and the sardines were still
"What about the fisheries thing?" I asked. "Did it go
"The fisheries? No, I gave it up. I refused to go forward
with it. The New York people concerned were too shy, too
timid to tackle it. I finally had to put it to them very
straight that they must either stop shilly-shallying and
declare themselves, or the whole business was off."
"Did they declare themselves?" I questioned.
"They did," said Ellesworth, "but I don't regret it. I'm
working now on a much bigger thing,—something with
greater possibilities in it. When the right moment comes
I'll let you in on the ground floor."
I thanked him and we parted.
The next time I saw Ellesworth he told me at once that
he regarded Albania as unable to stand by itself. So I
gave him five dollars on the spot and left him.
A few days after that he called me up on the telephone
to tell me that the whole of Asia Minor would have to be
redistributed. The redistribution cost me five dollars
Then I met him on the street, and he said that Persia
was disintegrating, and took from me a dollar and a half.
When I passed him next in the street he was very busy
amalgamating Chinese tramways. It appeared that there
was a ground floor in China, but I kept off it.
Each time I saw Ellesworth he looked a little shabbier
than the last. Then one day he called me up on the
telephone, and made an appointment.
His manner when I joined him was full of importance.
"I want you at once," he said in a commanding tone, "to
write me your cheque for a hundred dollars."
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"I am now able," said Ellesworth, "to put you in on the
ground floor of one of the biggest things in years."
"Thanks," I said, "the ground floor is no place for me."
"Don't misunderstand me," said Ellesworth. "This is a
big thing. It's an idea I've been working on for some
time,—making refined sugar from the huckleberry crop.
It's a certainty. I can get you shares now at five
dollars. They'll go to five hundred when we put them on
the market,—and I can run you in for a block of stock
for promotion services as well. All you have to do is
to give me right now a hundred dollars,—cash or your
cheque,—and I can arrange the whole thing for you."
"My dear Ellesworth," I said, "I hope you won't mind if
I give you a little bit of good advice. Why not drop all
this idea of quick money? There's nothing in it. The
business world has grown too shrewd for it. Take an
ordinary decent job and stick to it. Let me use my
influence," I added, "to try and get you into something
with a steady salary, and with your brains you're bound
to get on in time."
Ellesworth looked pained. A "steady job" sounded to him
like a "ground floor" to me.
After that I saw nothing of him for weeks. But I didn't
forget him. I looked about and secured for him a job as
a canvassing agent for a book firm at a salary of five
dollars a week, and a commission of one-tenth of one per
I was waiting to tell him of his good luck, when I chanced
to see him at the club again.
But he looked transformed.
He had on a long frock coat that reached nearly to his
knees. He was leading a little procession of very heavy
men in morning coats, upstairs towards the private luncheon
rooms. They moved like a funeral, puffing as they went.
I had seen company directors before and I knew what they
were at sight.
"It's a small club and rather inconvenient," Ellesworth
was saying, "and the horizon of some of its members rather
narrow," here he nodded to me as he passed,—"but I can
give you a fairly decent lunch."
I watched them as they disappeared upstairs.
"That's Ellesworth, isn't it?" said a man near me. It
was the same man who had asked about him before.
"Yes," I answered.
"Giving a lunch to his directors, I suppose," said my
friend; "lucky dog."
"His directors?" I asked.
"Yes, hadn't you heard? He's just cleaned up half a
million or more,—some new scheme for making refined
sugar out of huckleberries. Isn't it amazing what shrewd
ideas these big business men get hold of? They say they're
unloading the stock at five hundred dollars. It only cost
them about five to organize. If only one could get on to
one of these things early enough, eh?"
I assented sadly.
And the next time I am offered a chance on the ground
floor I am going to take it, even if it's only the barley
floor of a brewery.
It appears that there is such a place after all.
9.—The Hallucination of Mr. Butt
It is the hallucination of Mr. Butt's life that he lives
to do good. At whatever cost of time or trouble to himself,
he does it. Whether people appear to desire it or not,
he insists on helping them along.
His time, his company and his advice are at the service
not only of those who seek them but of those who, in the
mere appearances of things, are not asking for them.
You may see the beaming face of Mr. Butt appear at the
door of all those of his friends who are stricken with
the minor troubles of life. Whenever Mr. Butt learns that
any of his friends are moving house, buying furniture,
selling furniture, looking for a maid, dismissing a maid,
seeking a chauffeur, suing a plumber or buying a piano,—he
is at their side in a moment.
So when I met him one night in the cloak room of the club
putting on his raincoat and his galoshes with a peculiar
beaming look on his face, I knew that he was up to some
sort of benevolence.
"Come upstairs," I said, "and play billiards." I saw from
his general appearance that it was a perfectly safe offer.
"My dear fellow," said Mr. Butt, "I only wish I could.
I wish I had the time. I am sure it would cheer you up
immensely if I could. But I'm just going out."
"Where are you off to?" I asked, for I knew he wanted me
to say it.
"I'm going out to see the Everleigh-Joneses,—you know
them? no?—just come to the city, you know, moving into
their new house, out on Seldom Avenue."
"But," I said, "that's away out in the suburbs, is it
not, a mile or so beyond the car tracks?"
"Something like that," answered Mr. Butt.
"And it's going on for ten o'clock and it's starting to
"Pooh, pooh," said Mr. Butt, cheerfully, adjusting his
galoshes. "I never mind the rain,—does one good. As to
their house. I've not been there yet but I can easily
find it. I've a very simple system for finding a house
at night by merely knocking at the doors in the neighborhood
till I get it."
"Isn't it rather late to go there?" I protested.
"My dear fellow," said Mr. Butt warmly, "I don't mind
that a bit. The way I look at it is, here are these two
young people, only married a few weeks, just moving into
their new house, everything probably upside down, no one
there but themselves, no one to cheer them up,"—he was
wriggling into his raincoat as he spoke and working
himself into a frenzy of benevolence,—"good gracious,
I only learned at dinner time that they had come to town,
or I'd have been out there days ago,—days ago—"
And with that Mr. Butt went bursting forth into the rain,
his face shining with good will under the street lamps.
The next day I saw him again at the club at lunch time.
"Well," I asked, "did you find the Joneses?"
"I did," said Mr. Butt, "and by George I was glad that
I'd gone—quite a lot of trouble to find the house (though
I didn't mind that; I expected it)—had to knock at twenty
houses at least to get it,—very dark and wet out there,
—no street lights yet,—however I simply pounded at the
doors until some one showed a light—at every house I
called out the same things, 'Do you know where the
Everleigh Joneses live?' They didn't. 'All right,' I
said, 'go back to bed. Don't bother to come down.'
"But I got to the right spot at last. I found the house
all dark. Jones put his head out of an upper window.
'Hullo,' I called out; 'it's Butt.' 'I'm awfully sorry,'
he said, 'we've gone to bed.' 'My dear boy,' I called
back, 'don't apologize at all. Throw me down the key and
I'll wait while you dress. I don't mind a bit.'
"Just think of it," continued Mr. Butt, "those two poor
souls going to bed at half past ten, through sheer
dullness! By George, I was glad I'd come. 'Now then,' I
said to myself, 'let's cheer them up a little, let's make
things a little brighter here.'
"Well, down they came and we sat there on furniture cases
and things and had a chat. Mrs. Jones wanted to make me
some coffee. 'My dear girl,' I said (I knew them both
when they were children) 'I absolutely refuse. Let ME
make it.' They protested. I insisted. I went at it,—kitchen
all upset—had to open at least twenty tins to get the
coffee. However, I made it at last. 'Now,' I said, 'drink
it.' They said they had some an hour or so ago. 'Nonsense,'
I said, 'drink it.' Well, we sat and chatted away till
midnight. They were dull at first and I had to do all
the talking. But I set myself to it. I can talk, you
know, when I try. Presently about midnight they seemed
to brighten up a little. Jones looked at his watch. 'By
Jove,' he said, in an animated way, 'it's after midnight.'
I think he was pleased at the way the evening was going;
after that we chatted away more comfortably. Every little
while Jones would say, 'By Jove, it's half past twelve,'
or 'it's one o'clock,' and so on.
"I took care, of course, not to stay too late. But when
I left them I promised that I'd come back to-day to help
straighten things up. They protested, but I insisted."
That same day Mr. Butt went out to the suburbs and put
the Joneses' furniture to rights.
"I worked all afternoon," he told me afterwards,—"hard
at it with my coat off—got the pictures up first—they'd
been trying to put them up by themselves in the morning.
I had to take down every one of them—not a single one
right,—'Down they come,' I said, and went at it with a
A few days later Mr. Butt gave me a further report. "Yes,"
he said, "the furniture is all unpacked and straightened
out but I don't like it. There's a lot of it I don't
quite like. I half feel like advising Jones to sell it
and get some more. But I don't want to do that till I'm
quite certain about it."
After that Mr. Butt seemed much occupied and I didn't
see him at the club for some time.
"How about the Everleigh-Joneses?" I asked. "Are they
comfortable in their new house?"
Mr. Butt shook his head. "It won't do," he said. "I was
afraid of it from the first. I'm moving Jones in nearer
to town. I've been out all morning looking for an apartment;
when I get the right one I shall move him. I like an
apartment far better than a house."
So the Joneses in due course of time were moved. After
that Mr. Butt was very busy selecting a piano, and advising
them on wall paper and woodwork.
They were hardly settled in their new home when fresh
trouble came to them.
"Have you heard about Everleigh-Jones?" said Mr. Butt
one day with an anxious face.
"No," I answered.
"He's ill—some sort of fever—poor chap—been ill three
days, and they never told me or sent for me—just like
their grit—meant to fight it out alone. I'm going out
there at once."
From day to day I had reports from Mr. Butt of the
progress of Jones's illness.
"I sit with him every day," he said. "Poor chap,—he was
very bad yesterday for a while,—mind wandered—quite
delirious—I could hear him from the next room—seemed
to think some one was hunting him—'Is that damn old fool
gone,' I heard him say.
"I went in and soothed him. 'There is no one here, my
dear boy,' I said, 'no one, only Butt.' He turned over
and groaned. Mrs. Jones begged me to leave him. 'You
look quite used up,' she said. 'Go out into the open
air.' 'My dear Mrs. Jones,' I said, 'what DOES it matter
Eventually, thanks no doubt to Mr. Butt's assiduous care,
Everleigh-Jones got well.
"Yes," said Mr. Butt to me a few weeks later, "Jones is
all right again now, but his illness has been a long hard
pull. I haven't had an evening to myself since it began.
But I'm paid, sir, now, more than paid for anything I've
done,—the gratitude of those two people—it's unbelievable
—you ought to see it. Why do you know that dear little
woman is so worried for fear that my strength has been
overtaxed that she wants me to take a complete rest and
go on a long trip somewhere—suggested first that I should
go south. 'My dear Mrs. Jones,' I said laughing, 'that's
the ONE place I will not go. Heat is the one thing I
CAN'T stand.' She wasn't nonplussed for a moment. 'Then
go north,' she said. 'Go up to Canada, or better still
go to Labrador,'—and in a minute that kind little woman
was hunting up railway maps to see how far north I could
get by rail. 'After that,' she said, 'you can go on
snowshoes.' She's found that there's a steamer to Ungava
every spring and she wants me to run up there on one
steamer and come back on the next."
"It must be very gratifying," I said.
"Oh, it is, it is," said Mr. Butt warmly. "It's well
worth anything I do. It more than repays me. I'm alone
in the world and my friends are all I have. I can't tell
you how it goes to my heart when I think of all my friends,
here in the club and in the town, always glad to see me,
always protesting against my little kindnesses and yet
never quite satisfied about anything unless they can get
my advice and hear what I have to say.
"Take Jones for instance," he continued—"do you know,
really now as a fact,—the hall porter assures me of
it,—every time Everleigh-Jones enters the club here
the first thing he does is to sing out, 'Is Mr. Butt in
the club?' It warms me to think of it." Mr. Butt paused,
one would have said there were tears in his eyes. But if
so the kindly beam of his spectacles shone through them
like the sun through April rain. He left me and passed
into the cloak room.
He had just left the hall when a stranger entered, a
narrow, meek man with a hunted face. He came in with a
furtive step and looked about him apprehensively.
"Is Mr. Butt in the club?" he whispered to the hall
"Yes, sir, he's just gone into the cloak room, sir, shall
But the man had turned and made a dive for the front door
and had vanished.
"Who is that?" I asked.
"That's a new member, sir, Mr. Everleigh-Jones," said
the hall porter.
IV-Ram Spudd The New World Singer. Is He Divinely Inspired?
Or Is He Not? At Any Rate We Discovered Him.
[Footnote: Mr. Spudd was discovered by the author for
the New York Life. He is already recognized as superior
to Tennyson and second only, as a writer of imagination,
to the Sultan of Turkey.]
The discovery of a new poet is always a joy to the
cultivated world. It is therefore with the greatest
pleasure that we are able to announce that we ourselves,
acting quite independently and without aid from any of
the English reviews of the day, have discovered one. In
the person of Mr. Ram Spudd, of whose work we give
specimens below, we feel that we reveal to our readers
a genius of the first order. Unlike one of the most
recently discovered English poets who is a Bengalee, and
another who is a full-blooded Yak, Mr. Spudd is, we
believe, a Navajo Indian. We believe this from the
character of his verse. Mr. Spudd himself we have not
seen. But when he forwarded his poems to our office and
offered with characteristic modesty to sell us his entire
works for seventy-five cents, we felt in closing with
his offer that we were dealing not only with a poet, but
with one of nature's gentlemen.
Mr. Spudd, we understand, has had no education. Other
newly discovered poets have had, apparently, some. Mr.
Spudd has had, evidently, none. We lay stress on this
point. Without it we claim it is impossible to understand
What we particularly like about Ram Spudd, and we do not
say this because we discovered him but because we believe
it and must say it, is that he belongs not to one school
but to all of them. As a nature poet we doubt very much
if he has his equal; as a psychologist, we are sure he
has not. As a clear lucid thinker he is undoubtedly in
the first rank; while as a mystic he is a long way in
front of it. The specimens of Mr. Spudd's verse which we
append herewith were selected, we are happy to assure
our readers, purely at random from his work. We first
blindfolded ourselves and then, standing with our feet
in warm water and having one hand tied behind our back,
we groped among the papers on our desk before us and
selected for our purpose whatever specimens first came
As we have said, or did we say it, it is perhaps as a
nature poet that Ram Spudd excels. Others of our modern
school have carried the observation of natural objects
to a high degree of very nice precision, but with Mr.
Spudd the observation of nature becomes an almost scientific
process. Nothing escapes him. The green of the grass he
detects as in an instant. The sky is no sooner blue than
he remarks it with unerring certainty. Every bird note,
every bee call, is familiar to his trained ear. Perhaps
we cannot do better than quote the opening lines of a
singularly beautiful sample of Ram Spudd's genius which
seems to us the last word in nature poetry. It is called,
with characteristic daintiness—
SPRING THAW IN THE
AHUNTSIC WOODS, NEAR PASPEBIAC,
(We would like to say that, to our ears at least, there
is a music in this title like the sound of falling water,
or of chopped ice. But we must not interrupt ourselves.
We now begin. Listen.)
The thermometer is standing this morning at thirty-
three decimal one.
As a consequence it is freezing in the shade, but
it is thawing in the sun.
There is a certain amount of snow on the ground,
but of course not too much.
The air is what you would call humid, but not
disagreeable to the touch.
Where I am standing I find myself practically
surrounded by trees,
It is simply astonishing the number of the different
varieties one sees.
I've grown so wise I can tell each different tree
by seeing it glisten,
But if that test fails I simply put my ear to the
tree and listen,
And, well, I suppose it is only a silly fancy of
But do you know I'm getting to tell different trees
by the sound of their saps.
After I have noticed all the trees, and named those
I know in words,
I stand quite still and look all round to see if
there are any birds,
And yesterday, close where I was standing, sitting
in some brush on the snow,
I saw what I was practically absolutely certain was
an early crow.
I sneaked up ever so close and was nearly beside
it, when say!
It turned and took one look at me, and flew away.
But we should not wish our readers to think that Ram
Spudd is always and only the contemplative poet of the
softer aspects of nature. Oh, by no means. There are
times when waves of passion sweep over him in such
prodigious volume as to roll him to and fro like a pebble
in the surf. Gusts of emotion blow over him with such
violence as to hurl him pro and con with inconceivable
fury. In such moods, if it were not for the relief offered
by writing verse we really do not know what would happen
to him. His verse written under the impulse of such
emotions marks him as one of the greatest masters of
passion, wild and yet restrained, objectionable and yet
printable, that have appeared on this side of the Atlantic.
We append herewith a portion, or half portion, of his
little gem entitled
With your warm, full, rich, red, ripe lips,
And your beautifully manicured finger-tips!
With your heaving, panting, rapidly expanding and
Lying against my perfectly ordinary shirt-front and
It is too much
Can you not understand?
Last night an ostrich feather from your fragrant hair
I guard it
From your tiara I have slid,
A single diamond,
And I keep it
Last night you left inside the vestibule upon the sill
A quarter dollar,
And I have it
But even those who know Ram Spudd as the poet of nature
or of passion still only know a part of his genius. Some
of his highest flights rise from an entirely different
inspiration, and deal with the public affairs of the
nation. They are in every sense comparable to the best
work of the poets laureate of England dealing with similar
themes. As soon as we had seen Ram Spudd's work of this
kind, we cried, that is we said to our stenographer,
"What a pity that in this republic we have no laureateship.
Here is a man who might truly fill it." Of the poem of
this kind we should wish to quote, if our limits of space
did not prevent it, Mr. Spudd's exquisite
ODE ON THE REDUCTION OF THE
UNITED STATES TARIFF
It is a matter of the very gravest concern to at least
nine-tenths of the business interests in the
Whether an all-round reduction of the present tariff
either on an ad valorem or a specific basis
Could be effected without a serious disturbance of the
general industrial situation of the country.
But, no, we must not quote any more. No we really mustn't.
Yet we cannot refrain from inserting a reference to the
latest of these laureate poems of Ram Spudd. It appears
to us to be a matchless specimen of its class, and to
settle once and for all the vexed question (though we
ourselves never vexed it) of whether true poetry can deal
with national occasions as they arise. It is entitled:
THE BANKER'S EUTHANASIA: OR,
THE FEDERAL RESERVE CURRENCY
ACT OF 1914,
and, though we do not propose to reproduce it here, our
distinct feeling is that it will take its rank beside
Mr. Spudd's Elegy on the Interstate Commerce Act, and
his Thoughts on the Proposal of a Uniform Pure Food Law.
But our space does not allow us to present Ram Spudd in
what is after all his greatest aspect, that of a profound
psychologist, a questioner of the very meaning of life
itself. His poem Death and Gloom, from which we must
refrain from quoting at large, contains such striking
passages as the following:
Why do I breathe, or do I?
What am I for, and whither do I go?
What skills it if I live, and if I die,
What boots it?
Any one knowing Ram Spudd as we do will realize that
these questions, especially the last, are practically
V.—Aristocratic Anecdotes or Little Stories of Great
I have been much struck lately by the many excellent
little anecdotes of celebrated people that have appeared
in recent memoirs and found their way thence into the
columns of the daily press. There is something about them
so deliciously pointed, their humour is so exquisite,
that I think we ought to have more of them. To this end
I am trying to circulate on my own account a few anecdotes
which seem somehow to have been overlooked.
Here, for example, is an excellent thing which comes, if
I remember rightly, from the vivacious Memoir of Lady
Ranelagh de Chit Chat.
ANECDOTE OF THE DUKE OF STRATHYTHAN
Lady Ranelagh writes:
"The Duke of Strathythan (I am writing of course of the
seventeenth Duke, not of his present Grace) was, as
everybody knows, famous for his hospitality. It was not
perhaps generally known that the Duke was as witty as he
was hospitable. I recall a most amusing incident that
happened the last time but two that I was staying at
Strathythan Towers. As we sat down to lunch (we were a
very small and intimate party, there being only forty-three
of us) the Duke, who was at the head of the table, looked
up from the roast of beef that he was carving, and running
his eye about the guests was heard to murmur, 'I'm afraid
there isn't enough beef to go round.'
"There was nothing to do, of course, but to roar with
laughter and the incident passed off with perfect savoir
Here is another story which I think has not had all the
publicity that it ought to. I found it in the book "Shot,
Shell and Shrapnell or Sixty Years as a War Correspondent,"
recently written by Mr. Maxim Catling whose exploits are
familiar to all readers.
ANECDOTE OF LORD KITCHENER
"I was standing," writes Mr. Maxim, "immediately between
Lord Kitchener and Lord Wolsley (with Lord Roberts a
little to the rear of us), and we were laughing and
chatting as we always did when the enemy were about to
open fire on us. Suddenly we found ourselves the object
of the most terrific hail of bullets. For a few moments
the air was black with them. As they went past I could
not refrain from exchanging a quiet smile with Lord
Kitchener, and another with Lord Wolsley. Indeed I have
never, except perhaps on twenty or thirty occasions,
found myself exposed to such an awful fusillade.
"Kitchener, who habitually uses an eye-glass (among his
friends), watched the bullets go singing by, and then,
with that inimitable sangfroid which he reserves for his
"'I'm afraid if we stay here we may get hit.'
"We all moved away laughing heartily.
"To add to the joke, Lord Roberts' aide-de-camp was shot
in the pit of the stomach as we went."
The next anecdote which I reproduce may be already too
well known to my readers. The career of Baron Snorch
filled so large a page in the history of European diplomacy
that the publication of his recent memoirs was awaited
with profound interest by half the chancelleries of
Europe. (Even the other half were half excited over them.)
The tangled skein in which the politics of Europe are
enveloped was perhaps never better illustrated than in
this fascinating volume. Even at the risk of repeating
what is already familiar, I offer the following for what
it is worth—or even less.
NEW LIGHT ON THE LIFE OF CAVOUR
"I have always regarded Count Cavour," writes the Baron,
"as one of the most impenetrable diplomatists whom it
has been my lot to meet. I distinctly recall an incident
in connection with the famous Congress of Paris of 1856
which rises before my mind as vividly as if it were
yesterday. I was seated in one of the large salons of
the Elysee Palace (I often used to sit there) playing
vingt-et-un together with Count Cavour, the Duc de Magenta,
the Marquese di Casa Mombasa, the Conte di Piccolo Pochito
and others whose names I do not recollect. The stakes
had been, as usual, very high, and there was a large pile
of gold on the table. No one of us, however, paid any
attention to it, so absorbed were we all in the thought
of the momentous crises that were impending. At intervals
the Emperor Napoleon III passed in and out of the room,
and paused to say a word or two, with well-feigned
eloignement, to the players, who replied with such
degagement as they could.
"While the play was at its height a servant appeared with
a telegram on a silver tray. He handed it to Count Cavour.
The Count paused in his play, opened the telegram, read
it and then with the most inconceivable nonchalance, put
it in his pocket. We stared at him in amazement for a
moment, and then the Duc, with the infinite ease of a
trained diplomat, quietly resumed his play.
"Two days afterward, meeting Count Cavour at a reception
of the Empress Eugenie, I was able, unobserved, to whisper
in his ear, 'What was in the telegram?' 'Nothing of any
consequence,' he answered. From that day to this I have
never known what it contained. My readers," concludes
Baron Snorch, "may believe this or not as they like, but
I give them my word that it is true.
"Probably they will not believe it."
I cannot resist appending to these anecdotes a charming
little story from that well-known book, "Sorrows of a
Queen". The writer, Lady de Weary, was an English
gentlewoman who was for many years Mistress of the Robes
at one of the best known German courts. Her affection
for her royal mistress is evident on every page of her
TENDERNESS OF A QUEEN
Lady de W. writes:
"My dear mistress, the late Queen of Saxe-Covia-Slitz-
in-Mein, was of a most tender and sympathetic disposition.
The goodness of her heart broke forth on all occasions.
I well remember how one day, on seeing a cabman in the
Poodel Platz kicking his horse in the stomach, she stopped
in her walk and said, 'Oh, poor horse! if he goes on
kicking it like that he'll hurt it.'"
I may say in conclusion that I think if people would only
take a little more pains to resuscitate anecdotes of this
sort, there might be a lot more of them found.
VI.—Education Made Agreeable or the Diversions of a
A few days ago during a pause in one of my college lectures
(my class being asleep) I sat reading Draper's "Intellectual
Development of Europe". Quite suddenly I came upon the
"Eratosthenes cast everything he wished to teach into
poetry. By this means he made it attractive, and he was
able to spread his system all over Asia Minor."
This came to me with a shock of an intellectual discovery.
I saw at once how I could spread my system, or parts of
it, all over the United States and Canada. To make
education attractive! There it is! To call in the help
of poetry, of music, of grand opera, if need be, to aid
in the teaching of the dry subjects of the college class
I set to work at once on the project and already I have
enough results to revolutionize education.
In the first place I have compounded a blend of modern
poetry and mathematics, which retains all the romance of
the latter and loses none of the dry accuracy of the
former. Here is an example:
The poem of
LORD ULLIN'S DAUGHTER
A PROBLEM IN TRIGONOMETRY
INTRODUCTION. A party of three persons, a Scotch nobleman,
a young lady and an elderly boatman stand on the banks
of a river (R), which, for private reasons, they desire
to cross. Their only means of transport is a boat, of
which the boatman, if squared, is able to row at a rate
proportional to the square of the distance. The boat,
however, has a leak (S), through which a quantity of
water passes sufficient to sink it after traversing an
indeterminate distance (D). Given the square of the
boatman and the mean situation of all concerned, to find
whether the boat will pass the river safely or sink.
A chieftain to the Highlands bound
Cried "Boatman do not tarry!
And I'll give you a silver pound
To row me o'er the ferry."
Before them raged the angry tide
X**2 + Y from side to side.
Outspake the hardy Highland wight,
"I'll go, my chief, I'm ready;
It is not for your silver bright,
But for your winsome lady."
And yet he seemed to manifest
A certain hesitation;
His head was sunk upon his breast
In puzzled calculation.
"Suppose the river X + Y
And call the distance Q
Then dare we thus the gods defy
I think we dare, don't you?
Our floating power expressed in words
Is X + 47/3"
"Oh, haste thee, haste," the lady cries,
"Though tempests round us gather
I'll face the raging of the skies
But please cut out the Algebra."
The boat has left the stormy shore (S)
A stormy C before her
C1 C2 C3 C4
The tempest gathers o'er her
The thunder rolls, the lightning smites 'em
And the rain falls ad infinitum.
In vain the aged boatman strains,
His heaving sides reveal his pains;
The angry water gains apace
Both of his sides and half his base,
Till, as he sits, he seems to lose
The square of his hypotenuse.
The boat advanced to X + 2,
Lord Ullin reached the fixed point Q,—
Then the boat sank from human eye,
OY, OY**2, OGY.
But this is only a sample of what can be done. I have
realised that all our technical books are written and
presented in too dry a fashion. They don't make the most
of themselves. Very often the situation implied is
intensely sensational, and if set out after the fashion
of an up-to-date newspaper, would be wonderfully effective.
Here, for example, you have Euclid writing in a perfectly
prosaic way all in small type such an item as the following:
"A perpendicular is let fall on a line BC so as to bisect
it at the point C etc., etc.," just as if it were the
most ordinary occurrence in the world. Every newspaper
man will see at once that it ought to be set up thus:
PERPENDICULAR FALLS HEADLONG
ON A GIVEN POINT
The Line at C said to be completely bisected
President of the Line makes Statement
etc., etc., etc.
But I am not contenting myself with merely describing my
system. I am putting it to the test. I am preparing a
new and very special edition of my friend Professor Daniel
Murray's work on the Calculus. This is a book little
known to the general public. I suppose one may say without
exaggeration that outside of the class room it is hardly
read at all.
Yet I venture to say that when my new edition is out it
will be found on the tables of every cultivated home,
and will be among the best sellers of the year. All that
is needed is to give to this really monumental book the
same chance that is given to every other work of fiction
in the modern market.
First of all I wrap it in what is called technically a
jacket. This is of white enamelled paper, and on it is
a picture of a girl, a very pretty girl, in a summer
dress and sunbonnet sitting swinging on a bough of a
cherry tree. Across the cover in big black letters are
and beneath them the legend "the most daring book of the
day." This, you will observe, is perfectly true. The
reviewers of the mathematical journals when this book
first came out agreed that "Professor Murray's views on
the Calculus were the most daring yet published." They
said, too, that they hoped that the professor's unsound
theories of infinitesimal rectitude would not remain
unchallenged. Yet the public somehow missed it all, and
one of the most profitable scandals in the publishing
trade was missed for the lack of a little business
My new edition will give this book its first real chance.
I admit that the inside has to be altered,—but not very
much. The real basis of interest is there. The theories
in the book are just as interesting as those raised in
the modern novel. All that is needed is to adopt the
device, familiar in novels, of clothing the theories in
personal form and putting the propositions advanced into
the mouths of the characters, instead of leaving them as
unsupported statements of the author. Take for example
Dr. Murray's beginning. It is very good,—any one will
admit it,—fascinatingly clever, but it lacks heart.
If two magnitudes, one of which is determined by a straight
line and the other by a parabola approach one another,
the rectangle included by the revolution of each will be
equal to the sum of a series of indeterminate rectangles.
Now this is,—quite frankly,—dull. The situation is
there; the idea is good, and, whether one agrees or not,
is at least as brilliantly original as even the best of
our recent novels. But I find it necessary to alter the
presentation of the plot a little bit. As I re-edit it
the opening of the Calculus runs thus:
On a bright morning in June along a path gay with the
opening efflorescence of the hibiscus and entangled here
and there with the wild blossoms of the convolvulus,—two
magnitudes might have been seen approaching one another.
The one magnitude who held a tennis-racket in his hand,
carried himself with a beautiful erectness and moved
with a firmness such as would have led Professor Murray
to exclaim in despair—Let it be granted that A. B.
(for such was our hero's name) is a straight line. The
other magnitude, which drew near with a step at once
elusive and fascinating, revealed as she walked a figure
so exquisite in its every curve as to call from her
geometrical acquaintances the ecstatic exclamation, "Let
it be granted that M is a parabola."
The beautiful magnitude of whom we have last spoken,
bore on her arm as she walked, a tiny dog over which
her fair head was bent in endearing caresses; indeed
such was her attention to the dog Vi (his full name was
Velocity but he was called Vi for short) that her wayward
footsteps carried her not in a straight line but in a
direction so constantly changing as to lead that acute
observer, Professor Murray, to the conclusion that her
path could only be described by the amount of attraction
ascribable to Vi.
Guided thus along their respective paths, the two
magnitudes presently met with such suddenness that they
"I beg your pardon," said the first magnitude very
"You ought to indeed," said the second rather sulkily,
"you've knocked Vi right out of my arms."
She looked round despairingly for the little dog which
seemed to have disappeared in the long grass.
"Won't you please pick him up?" she pleaded.
"Not exactly in my line, you know," answered the other
magnitude, "but I tell you what I'll do, if you'll stand
still, perfectly still where you are, and let me take
hold of your hand, I'll describe a circle!"
"Oh, aren't you clever!" cried the girl, clapping her
hands. "What a lovely idea! You describe a circle all
around me, and then we'll look at every weeny bit of it
and we'll be sure to find Vi—"
She reached out her hand to the other magnitude who
clasped it with an assumed intensity sufficient to retain
At this moment a third magnitude broke on the scene:—a
huge oblong, angular figure, very difficult to describe,
came revolving towards them.
"M," it shouted, "Emily, what are you doing?"
"My goodness," said the second magnitude in alarm, "it's
I may say that the second instalment of Dr. Murray's
fascinating romance will appear in the next number of
the "Illuminated Bookworm", the great adult-juvenile
vehicle of the newer thought in which these theories of
education are expounded further.
VII.—An Every-Day Experience
He came across to me in the semi-silence room of the
"I had a rather queer hand at bridge last night," he
"Had you?" I answered, and picked up a newspaper.
"Yes. It would have interested you, I think," he went
"Would it?" I said, and moved to another chair.
"It was like this," he continued, following me: "I held
the king of hearts—"
"Half a minute," I said; "I want to go and see what time
it is." I went out and looked at the clock in the hall.
I came back.
"And the queen and the ten—" he was saying.
"Excuse me just a second; I want to ring for a messenger."
I did so. The waiter came and went.
"And the nine and two small ones," he went on.
"Two small what?" I asked.
"Two small hearts," he said. "I don't remember which.
Anyway, I remember very well indeed that I had the king
and the queen and the jack, the nine, and two little
"Half a second," I said, "I want to mail a letter."
When I came back to him, he was still murmuring:
"My partner held the ace of clubs and the queen. The jack
was out, but I didn't know where the king was—"
"You didn't?" I said in contempt.
"No," he repeated in surprise, and went on murmuring:
"Diamonds had gone round once, and spades twice, and so
I suspected that my partner was leading from weakness—"
"I can well believe it," I said—"sheer weakness."
"Well," he said, "on the sixth round the lead came to
me. Now, what should I have done? Finessed for the ace,
or led straight into my opponent—"
"You want my advice," I said, "and you shall have it,
openly and fairly. In such a case as you describe, where
a man has led out at me repeatedly and with provocation,
as I gather from what you say, though I myself do not
play bridge, I should lead my whole hand at him. I
repeat, I do not play bridge. But in the circumstances,
I should think it the only thing to do."
VIII—Truthful Oratory, or What Our Speakers
Ought to Say
TRUTHFUL SPEECH GIVING THE
REAL THOUGHTS OF A DISTINGUISHED
GUEST AT THE FIFTIETH
OF A SOCIETY
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: If there is one thing I
abominate more than another, it is turning out on a cold
night like this to eat a huge dinner of twelve courses
and know that I have to make a speech on top of it.
Gentlemen, I just feel stuffed. That's the plain truth
of it. By the time we had finished that fish, I could
have gone home satisfied. Honestly I could. That's as
much as I usually eat. And by the time I had finished
the rest of the food, I felt simply waterlogged, and I
do still. More than that. The knowledge that I had to
make a speech congratulating this society of yours on
its fiftieth anniversary haunted and racked me all through
the meal. I am not, in plain truth, the ready and brilliant
speaker you take me for. That is a pure myth. If you
could see the desperate home scene that goes on in my
family when I am working up a speech, your minds would
be at rest on that point.
I'll go further and be very frank with you. How this
society has lived for fifty years, I don't know. If all
your dinners are like this, Heaven help you. I've only
the vaguest idea of what this society is, anyway, and
what it does. I tried to get a constitution this afternoon
but failed. I am sure from some of the faces that I
recognise around this table that there must be good
business reasons of some sort for belonging to this
society. There's money in it,—mark my words,—for some
of you or you wouldn't be here. Of course I quite understand
that the President and the officials seated here beside
me come merely for the self-importance of it. That,
gentlemen, is about their size. I realized that from
their talk during the banquet. I don't want to speak
bitterly, but the truth is they are SMALL men and it
flatters them to sit here with two or three blue ribbons
pinned on their coats. But as for me, I'm done with it.
It will be fifty years, please heaven, before this event
comes round again. I hope, I earnestly hope, that I shall
be safely under the ground.
THE SPEECH THAT OUGHT TO BE
MADE BY A STATE GOVERNOR
AFTER VISITING THE FALL
EXPOSITION OF AN AGRICULTURAL
Well, gentlemen, this Annual Fall Fair of the Skedink
County Agricultural Association has come round again. I
don't mind telling you straight out that of all the
disagreeable jobs that fall to me as Governor of this
State, my visit to your Fall Fair is about the toughest.
I want to tell you, gentlemen, right here and now, that
I don't know anything about agriculture and I don't want
to. My parents were rich enough to bring me up in the
city in a rational way. I didn't have to do chores in
order to go to the high school as some of those present
have boasted that they did. My only wonder is that they
ever got there at all. They show no traces of it.
This afternoon, gentlemen, you took me all round your
live-stock exhibit. I walked past, and through, nearly
a quarter of a mile of hogs. What was it that they were
called—Tamworths—Berkshires? I don't remember. But
all I can say, gentlemen, is,—phew! Just that. Some of
you will understand readily enough. That word sums up
my whole idea of your agricultural show and I'm done with
No, let me correct myself. There was just one feature of
your agricultural exposition that met my warm approval.
You were good enough to take me through the section of
your exposition called your Midway Pleasance. Let me tell
you, sirs, that there was more real merit in that than
all the rest of the show put together. You apologized,
if I remember rightly, for taking me into the large tent
of the Syrian Dancing Girls. Oh, believe me, gentlemen,
you needn't have. Syria is a country which commands my
profoundest admiration. Some day I mean to spend a
vacation there. And, believe me, gentlemen, when I do
go,—and I say this with all the emphasis of which I am
capable,—I should not wish to be accompanied by such a
set of flatheads as the officials of your Agricultural
And now, gentlemen, as I have just received a fake
telegram, by arrangement, calling me back to the capital
of the State, I must leave this banquet at once. One word
in conclusion: if I had known as fully as I do now how
it feels to drink half a bucket of sweet cider, I should
certainly never have come.
TRUTHFUL SPEECH OF A DISTRICT
POLITICIAN TO A LADIES' SUFFRAGE
Ladies: My own earnest, heartfelt conviction is that you
are a pack of cats. I use the word "cats" advisedly, and
I mean every letter of it. I want to go on record before
this gathering as being strongly and unalterably opposed
to Woman Suffrage until you get it. After that I favour
it. My reasons for opposing the suffrage are of a kind
that you couldn't understand. But all men,—except the
few that I see at this meeting,—understand them by
As you may, however, succeed as a result of the fuss that
you are making,—in getting votes, I have thought it best
to come. Also,—I am free to confess,—I wanted to see
what you looked like.
On this last head I am disappointed. Personally I like
women a good deal fatter than most of you are, and better
looking. As I look around this gathering I see one or
two of you that are not so bad, but on the whole not
many. But my own strong personal predilection is and
remains in favour of a woman who can cook, mend clothes,
talk when I want her to, and give me the kind of admiration
to which I am accustomed.
Let me, however, say in conclusion that I am altogether
in sympathy with your movement to this extent. If you
ever DO get votes,—and the indications are that you will
(blast you),—I want your votes, and I want all of them.
IX.-Our Literary Bureau
[Footnote: This literary bureau was started by the author
in the New York Century. It leaped into such immediate
prominence that it had to be closed at once.]
NOVELS READ TO ORDER
FIRST AID FOR THE
NO BRAINS NEEDED
NO TASTE REQUIRED
NOTHING BUT MONEY
SEND IT TO US
We have lately been struck,—of course not dangerously,—by
a new idea. A recent number of a well-known magazine
contains an account of an American multimillionaire who,
on account of the pressure of his brain power and the
rush of his business, found it impossible to read the
fiction of the day for himself. He therefore caused his
secretaries to look through any new and likely novel and
make a rapid report on its contents, indicating for his
personal perusal the specially interesting parts.
Realizing the possibilities coiled up in this plan, we
have opened a special agency or bureau for doing work of
this sort. Any over-busy multimillionaire, or superman,
who becomes our client may send us novels, essays, or
books of any kind, and will receive a report explaining
the plot and pointing out such parts as he may with
propriety read. If he can once find time to send us a
postcard, or a postal cablegram, night or day, we undertake
to assume all the further effort of reading. Our terms
for ordinary fiction are one dollar per chapter; for
works of travel, 10 cents per mile; and for political or
other essays, two cents per page, or ten dollars per
idea, and for theological and controversial work, seven
dollars and fifty cents per cubic yard extracted. Our
clients are assured of prompt and immediate attention.
Through the kindness of the Editor of the Century we are
enabled to insert here a sample of our work. It was done
to the order of a gentleman of means engaged in silver
mining in Colorado, who wrote us that he was anxious to
get "a holt" on modern fiction, but that he had no time
actually to read it. On our assuring him that this was
now unnecessary, he caused to be sent to us the monthly
parts of a serial story, on which we duly reported as
The Dip, Canon County,
We beg to inform you that the scene of the opening chapter
of the Fortunes of Barbara Plynlimmon is laid in Wales.
The scene is laid, however, very carelessly and hurriedly
and we expect that it will shortly be removed. We cannot,
therefore, recommend it to your perusal. As there is a
very fine passage describing the Cambrian Hills by
moonlight, we enclose herewith a condensed table showing
the mean altitude of the moon for the month of December
in the latitude of Wales. The character of Miss Plynlimmon
we find to be developed in conversation with her
grandmother, which we think you had better not read. Nor
are we prepared to endorse your reading the speeches of
the Welsh peasantry which we find in this chapter, but
we forward herewith in place of them a short glossary of
Welsh synonyms which may aid you in this connection.
We regret to state that we find nothing in the second
chapter of the Fortunes of Barbara Plynlimmon which need
be reported to you at length. We think it well, however,
to apprise you of the arrival of a young Oxford student
in the neighbourhood of Miss Plynlimmon's cottage, who
is apparently a young man of means and refinement. We
enclose a list of the principal Oxford Colleges.
We may state that from the conversation and manner of
this young gentleman there is no ground for any apprehension
on your part. But if need arises we will report by cable
to you instantly.
The young gentleman in question meets Miss Plynlimmon at
sunrise on the slopes of Snowdon. As the description of
the meeting is very fine we send you a recent photograph
of the sun.
Our surmise was right. The scene of the story that we
are digesting for you is changed. Miss Plynlimmon has
gone to London. You will be gratified to learn that she
has fallen heir to a fortune of 100,000 pounds, which we
are happy to compute for you at $486,666 and 66 cents
less exchange. On Miss Plynlimmon's arrival at Charing
Cross Station, she is overwhelmed with that strange
feeling of isolation felt in the surging crowds of a
modern city. We therefore enclose a timetable showing
the arrival and departure of all trains at Charing Cross.
We beg to bring to your notice the fact that Miss Barbara
Plynlimmon has by an arrangement made through her trustees
become the inmate, on a pecuniary footing, in the household
of a family of title. We are happy to inform you that
her first appearance at dinner in evening dress was most
gratifying: we can safely recommend you to read in this
connection lines 4 and 5 and the first half of line 6 on
page 1OO of the book as enclosed. We regret to say that
the Marquis of Slush and his eldest son Viscount Fitzbuse
(courtesy title) are both addicted to drink. They have
been drinking throughout the chapter. We are pleased to
state that apparently the second son, Lord Radnor of
Slush, who is away from home is not so addicted. We send
you under separate cover a bottle of Radnor water.
We regret to state that the affairs of Miss Barbara
Plynlimmon are in a very unsatisfactory position. We
enclose three pages of the novel with the urgent request
that you will read them at once. The old Marquis of Slush
has made approaches towards Miss Plynlimmon of such a
scandalous nature that we think it best to ask you to
read them in full. You will note also that young Viscount
Slush who is tipsy through whole of pages 121-125, 128-133,
and part of page 140, has designs upon her fortune. We
are sorry to see also that the Marchioness of Buse under
the guise of friendship has insured Miss Plynlimmon's
life and means to do away with her. The sister of the
Marchioness, the Lady Dowager, also wishes to do away
with her. The second housemaid who is tempted by her
jewellery is also planning to do away with her. We feel
that if this goes on she will be done away with.
We beg to advise you that Viscount Fitz-buse, inflamed
by the beauty and innocence of Miss Plynlimmon, has gone
so far as to lay his finger on her (read page 170, lines
6-7). She resisted his approaches. At the height of the
struggle a young man, attired in the costume of a Welsh
tourist, but wearing the stamp of an Oxford student, and
yet carrying himself with the unmistakable hauteur (we
knew it at once) of an aristocrat, burst, or bust, into
the room. With one blow he felled Fitz-buse to the floor;
with another he clasped the girl to his heart.
"Barbara!" he exclaimed.
"Radnor," she murmured.
You will be pleased to learn that this is the second son
of the Marquis, Viscount Radnor, just returned from a
reading tour in Wales.
P. S. We do not know what he read, so we enclose a file
of Welsh newspapers to date.
We regret to inform you that the Marquis of Slush has
disinherited his son. We grieve to state that Viscount
Radnor has sworn that he will never ask for Miss
Plynlimmon's hand till he has a fortune equal to her own.
Meantime, we are sorry to say, he proposes to work.
The Viscount is seeking employment.
The Viscount is looking for work.
The Viscount is hunting for a job.
We are most happy to inform you that Miss Plynlimmon has
saved the situation. Determined to be worthy of the
generous love of Viscount Radnor, she has arranged to
convey her entire fortune to the old family lawyer who
acts as her trustee. She will thus become as poor as the
Viscount and they can marry. The scene with the old
lawyer who breaks into tears on receiving the fortune,
swearing to hold and cherish it as his own is very
touching. Meantime, as the Viscount is hunting for a job,
we enclose a list of advertisements under the heading
You will be very gratified to learn that the fortunes of
Miss Barbara Plynlimmon have come to a most pleasing
termination. Her marriage with the Viscount Radnor was
celebrated very quietly on page 231. (We enclose a list
of the principal churches in London.) No one was present
except the old family lawyer, who was moved to tears at
the sight of the bright, trusting bride, and the clergyman
who wept at the sight of the cheque given him by the
Viscount. After the ceremony the old trustee took Lord
and Lady Radnor to a small wedding breakfast at an hotel
(we enclose a list). During the breakfast a sudden
faintness (for which we had been watching for ten pages)
overcame him. He sank back in his chair, gasping. Lord
and Lady Radnor rushed to him and sought in vain to
tighten his necktie. He expired under their care, having
just time to indicate in his pocket a will leaving them
his entire wealth.
This had hardly happened when a messenger brought news
to the Viscount that his brother, Lord Fitz-buse had been
killed in the hunting field, and that he (meaning him,
himself) had now succeeded to the title. Lord and Lady
Fitz-buse had hardly time to reach the town house of the
family when they learned that owing to the sudden death
of the old Marquis (also, we believe, in the hunting
field), they had become the Marquis and the Marchioness
The Marquis and the Marchioness of Slush are still living
in their ancestral home in London. Their lives are an
example to all their tenantry in Piccadilly, the Strand
Dear Mr. Gulch:
We beg to acknowledge with many thanks your cheque for
one thousand dollars.
We regret to learn that you have not been able to find
time to read our digest of the serial story placed with
us at your order. But we note with pleasure that you
propose to have the "essential points" of our digest
"boiled down" by one of the business experts of your
Awaiting your commands,
We remain, etc., etc.
X.—Speeding Up Business
We were sitting at our editorial desk in our inner room,
quietly writing up our week's poetry, when a stranger
looked in upon us.
He came in with a burst,—like the entry of the hero of
western drama coming in out of a snowstorm. His manner
was all excitement. "Sit down," we said, in our grave,
courteous way. "Sit down!" he exclaimed, "certainly not!
Are you aware of the amount of time and energy that are
being wasted in American business by the practice of
perpetually sitting down and standing up again? Do you
realize that every time you sit down and stand up you
make a dead lift of"—he looked at us,—"two hundred
and fifty pounds? Did you ever reflect that every time
you sit down you have to get up again?" "Never," we said
quietly, "we never thought of it." "You didn't!" he
sneered. "No, you'd rather go on lifting 250 pounds
through two feet,—an average of 500 foot-pounds,
practically 62 kilowatts of wasted power. Do you know
that by merely hitching a pulley to the back of your neck
you could generate enough power to light your whole
We hung our heads. Simple as the thing was, we had never
thought of it. "Very good," said the Stranger. "Now, all
American business men are like you. They don't think,—do
you understand me? They don't think."
We realized the truth of it at once. We had never thought.
Perhaps we didn't even know how.
"Now, I tell you," continued our visitor, speaking rapidly
and with a light of wild enthusiasm in his face, "I'm
out for a new campaign,—efficiency in business—speeding
things up—better organization."
"But surely," we said, musingly, "we have seen something
about this lately in the papers?" "Seen it, sir," he
exclaimed, "I should say so. It's everywhere. It's a
new movement. It's in the air. Has it never struck you
how a thing like this can be seen in the air?"
Here again we were at fault. In all our lives we had
never seen anything in the air. We had never even looked
there. "Now," continued the Stranger, "I want your paper
to help. I want you to join in. I want you to give
"Assuredly," we said, with our old-fashioned politeness.
"Anything which concerns the welfare, the progress, if
one may so phrase it—" "Stop," said the visitor. "You
talk too much. You're prosy. Don't talk. Listen to me.
Try and fix your mind on what I am about to say."
We fixed it. The Stranger's manner became somewhat calmer.
"I am heading," he said, "the new American efficiency
movement. I have sent our circulars to fifty thousand
representative firms, explaining my methods. I am receiving
ten thousand answers a day"—here he dragged a bundle
of letters out of his pocket—"from Maine, from New
Hampshire, from Vermont,"—"Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Connecticut," we murmured.
"Exactly," he said; "from every State in the Union—from
the Philippines, from Porto Rico, and last week I had
one from Canada." "Marvellous," we said; "and may one
ask what your new methods are?"
"You may," he answered. "It's a proper question. It's a
typical business question, fair, plain, clean, and even
admitting of an answer. The great art of answering
questions," he continued, "is to answer at once without
loss of time, friction or delay in moving from place to
place. I'll answer it."
"Do," we said.
"I will," said the Stranger. "My method is first: to
stimulate business to the highest point by infusing into
it everywhere the spirit of generous rivalry, of wholesome
competition; by inviting each and every worker to outdo
each and every other."
"And can they do it?" we asked, puzzled and yet fascinated.
"Can they all do it?"
"They do, and they can," said the Stranger. "The proof
of it is that they are doing it. Listen. Here is an
answer to my circular No. 6, Efficiency and Recompense,
that came in this morning. It is from a steel firm.
Listen." The Stranger picked out a letter and read it.
Our firm is a Steel Corporation. We roll rails. As soon
as we read your circular on the Stimulus of Competition
we saw that there were big things in it. At once we sent
one of our chief managers to the rolling, mill. He carried
a paper bag in his hand. "Now boys," he said, "every man
who rolls a rail gets a gum-drop." The effect was magical.
The good fellows felt a new stimulus. They now roll out
rails like dough. Work is a joy to them. Every Saturday
night the man who has rolled most gets a blue ribbon;
the man who has rolled the next most, a green ribbon;
the next most a yellow ribbon, and so on through the
spectroscope. The man who rolls least gets only a red
ribbon. It is a real pleasure to see the brave fellows
clamouring for their ribbons. Our output, after defraying
the entire cost of the ribbons and the gum-drops, has
increased forty per cent. We intend to carry the scheme
further by allowing all the men who get a hundred blue
ribbons first, to exchange them for the Grand Efficiency
Prize of the firm,—a pink ribbon. This the winner will
be entitled to wear whenever and wherever he sees fit to
The stranger paused for breath.
"Marvellous," we said. "There is no doubt the stimulus
of keen competition—"
"Shut up," he said impatiently. "Let me explain it further.
Competition is only part of it. An item just as big that
makes for efficiency is to take account of the little
things. It's the little things that are never thought
Here was another wonder! We realized that we had never
thought of them. "Take an example," the Stranger continued.
"I went into a hotel the other day. What did I see?
Bell-boys being summoned upstairs every minute, and flying
up in the elevators. Yes,—and every time they went up
they had to come down again. I went up to the manager.
I said, 'I can understand that when your guests ring for
the bell-boys they have to go up. But why should they
come down? Why not have them go up and never come down?'
He caught the idea at once. That hotel is transformed.
I have a letter from the manager stating that they find
it fifty per cent. cheaper to hire new bell-boys instead
of waiting for the old ones to come down."
"These results," we said, "are certainly marvellous. "You
are most assuredly to be congratulated on—"
"You talk too much," said the Stranger. "Don't do it.
Learn to listen. If a young man comes to me for advice
in business,—and they do in hundreds, lots of them,—almost
in tears over their inefficiency,—I'd say, 'Young man,
never talk, listen; answer, but don't speak.' But even
all this is only part of the method. Another side of it
"Technique?" we said, pleased but puzzled.
"Yes, the proper use of machine devices. Take the building
trade. I've revolutionized it. Till now all the bricks
even for a high building were carried up to the mason in
hods. Madness! Think of the waste of it. By my method
instead of carrying the bricks to the mason we take the
mason to the brick,—lower him on a wire rope, give him
a brick, and up he goes again. As soon as he wants another
brick he calls down, 'I want a brick,' and down he comes
"This," we said, "is little short of—"
"Cut it out. Even that is not all. Another thing bigger
than any is organization. Half the business in this
country is not organized. As soon as I sent out my
circular, No. 4, HAVE YOU ORGANIZED YOUR BUSINESS! I
got answers in thousands! Heart-broken, many of them.
They had never thought of it! Here, for example, is a
letter written by a plain man, a gardener, just an ordinary
man, a plain man—"
"Yes," we said, "quite so."
"Well, here is what he writes:
As soon as I got your circular I read it all through
from end to end, and I saw that all my failure in
the past had come from my not being organized. I
sat and thought a long while and I decided that I
would organize myself. I went right in to the house
and I said to my wife, "Jane, I'm going to organize
myself." She said, "Oh, John!"—and not another
word, but you should have seen the look on her face.
So the next morning I got up early and began to
organize myself. It was hard at first but I stuck to it.
There were times when I felt as if I couldn't do it.
It seemed too hard. But bit by bit I did it and now,
thank God, I am organized. I wish all men like me
could know the pleasure I feel in being organized."
"Touching, isn't it?" said the Stranger. "But I get lots
of letters like that. Here's another, also from a man,
a plain man, working on his own farm. Hear what he says:
As soon as I saw your circular on HOW TO SPEED UP THE
EMPLOYEE I felt that it was a big thing. I don't have
any hired help here to work with me, but only father. He
cuts the wood and does odd chores about the place. So I
realized that the best I could do was to try to speed up
father. I started in to speed him up last Tuesday, and
I wish you could see him. Before this he couldn't split
a cord of wood without cutting a slice off his boots.
Now he does it in half the time."
"But there," the Stranger said, getting impatient even
with his own reading, "I needn't read it all. It is the
same thing all along the line. I've got the Method
introduced into the Department Stores. Before this every
customer who came in wasted time trying to find the
counters. Now we install a patent springboard, with a
mechanism like a catapault. As soon as a customer comes
in an attendant puts him on the board, blindfolds him,
and says, 'Where do you want to go?' 'Glove counter.'
'Oh, all right.' He's fired at it through the air. No
time lost. Same with the railways. They're installing
the Method, too. Every engineer who breaks the record
from New York to Buffalo gets a glass of milk. When he
gets a hundred glasses he can exchange them for a glass
of beer. So with the doctors. On the new method, instead
of giving a patient one pill a day for fourteen days they
give him fourteen pills in one day. Doctors, lawyers,
everybody,—in time, sir," said the Stranger, in tones
of rising excitement, "you'll see even the plumbers—"
But just at this moment the door opened. A sturdy-looking
man in blue entered. The Stranger's voice was hushed at
once. The excitement died out of his face. His manner
all of a sudden was meekness itself.
"I was just coming," he said.
"That's right, sir," said the man; "better come along
and not take up the gentleman's time."
"Good-bye, then," said the Stranger, with meek affability,
and he went out.
The man in blue lingered behind for a moment.
"A sad case, sir," he said, and he tapped his forehead.
"You mean—" I asked.
"Exactly. Cracked, sir. Quite cracked; but harmless. I'm
engaged to look after him, but he gave me the slip
"He is under delusions?" we inquired.
"Yes, sir. He's got it into his head that business in
this country has all gone to pieces,—thinks it must be
reorganized. He writes letters about it all day and sends
them to the papers with imaginary names. You may have
seen some of them. Good day, sir."
We looked at our watch. We had lost just half an hour
over the new efficiency. We turned back with a sigh to
our old-fashioned task.
XI.—Who Is Also Who. A Companion Volume
to Who's Who
Note by the editor: I do not quarrel with the contents
of such valuable compendiums as "Who's Who," "Men and
Women of the Time," etc., etc. But they leave out the
really Representative People. The names that they include
are so well known as to need no commentary, while those
that they exclude are the very people one most wishes to
read about. My new book is not arranged alphabetically,
that order having given great offence in certain social
Smith, J. Everyman: born Kenoka Springs; educ. Kenoka
Springs; present residence, The Springs, Kenoka; address,
Kenoka Springs Post-Office; after leaving school threw
himself (Oct. 1881) into college study; thrown out of it
(April 1882); decided to follow the law; followed it
(1882); was left behind (1883); decided (1884) to abandon
it; abandoned it; resolved (1885) to turn his energies
to finance; turned them (1886); kept them turned (1887);
unturned them (1888); was offered position (1889) as sole
custodian of Mechanics' Institute, Kenoka Springs; decided
(same date) to accept it; accepted it; is there now; will
be till he dies.
Flintlock, J. Percussion: aged 87; war veteran and
pensioner; born, blank; educated, blank; at outbreak of
Civil War sprang to arms; both sides; sprang Union first;
entered beef contract department of army of U. S.; fought
at Chicago, Omaha, and leading (beef) centres of operation
during the thickest of the (beef) conflict; was under
Hancock, Burnside, Meade, and Grant; fought with all of
them; mentioned (very strongly) by all of them; entered
Confederate Service (1864); attached (very much) to rum
department of quarter-master's staff; mentioned in this
connection (very warmly) in despatches of General Lee;
mustered out, away out, of army; lost from sight, 1865-1895;
placed on pension list with rank of general, 1895; has
stayed on, 1895-1915; obtained (on 6th Avenue) war medals
and service clasps; publications—"My Campaigns under
Grant," "Battles I have Saved," "Feeding an Army,"
"Stuffing the Public," etc., etc.; recreations, telling
war stories; favorite amusement, showing war medals.
Crook, W. Underhand: born, dash; parents, double dash;
educated at technical school; on graduation turned his
attention to the problem of mechanical timelocks and
patent safes; entered Sing-Sing, 1890; resident there,
1890-1893; Auburn, 1894, three months; various state
institutions, 1895-1898; worked at profession, 1898-1899;
Sing-Sing, 1900; professional work, 1901; Sing-Sing,
1902; profession, 1903, Sing-Sing; profession, Sing-Sing,
etc., etc.; life appointment, 1908; general favorite,
musical, has never killed anybody.
Gloomie, Dreary O'Leary: Scotch dialect comedian and
humorist; well known in Scotland; has standing offer from
Duke of Sutherland to put foot on estate.
Muck, O. Absolute: novelist; of low German extraction;
born Rotterdam; educated Muckendorf; escaped to America;
long unrecognized; leaped into prominence by writing "The
Social Gas-Pipe," a powerful indictment of modern society,
written in revenge for not being invited to dinner; other
works—"The Sewerage of the Sea-Side," an arraignment of
Newport society, reflecting on some of his best friends;
"Vice and Super-Vice," a telling denunciation of the New
York police, written after they had arrested him; "White
Ravens," an indictment of the clergy; "Black Crooks," an
indictment of the publishers, etc., etc.; has arraigned
and indicted nearly everybody.
Whyner, Egbert Ethelwind: poet, at age of sixteen wrote
a quatrain, "The Banquet of Nebuchadnezzar," and at once
left school; followed it up in less than two years by a
poem in six lines "America"; rested a year and then
produced "Babylon, A Vision of Civilization," three lines;
has written also "Herod, a Tragedy," four lines; "Revolt
of Woman, "two lines, and "The Day of Judgement," one
line. Recreation, writing poetry.
Adult, Hon. Underdone: address The Shrubbery, Hopton-
under-Hyde, Rotherham-near-Pottersby, Potts, Hants,
Hops, England (or words to that effect); organizer of
the Boys' League of Pathfinders, Chief Commissioner of
the Infant Crusaders, Grand Master of the Young Imbeciles;
Major-General of the Girl Rangers, Chief of Staff of the
Matron Mountain Climbers, etc.
Zfwinski, X. Z.: Polish pianist; plays all night; address
4,570 West 457 Street, Westside, Chicago West.
(An extract from a recent (very recent) novel, illustrating
the new beauties of language and ideas that are being
rapidly developed by the twentieth century press.)
His voice as he turned towards her was taut as a tie-line.
"You don't love me!" he hoarsed, thick with agony. She
had angled into a seat and sat sensing-rather-than-seeing
For a time she silenced. Then presently as he still stood
and enveloped her,—
"Don't!" she thinned, her voice fining to a thread.
"Answer me," he gloomed, still gazing into-and-through
She half-heard half-didn't-hear him.
Night was falling about them as they sat thus beside the
river. A molten afterglow of iridescent saffron shot with
incandescent carmine lit up the waters of the Hudson till
they glowed like electrified uranium.
For a while they both sat silent,—looming.
"It had to be," she glumped.
"Why, why?" he barked. "Why should it have had to have
been or (more hopefully) even be to be? Surely you don't
mean because of MONEY?"
She shuddered into herself.
The thing seemed to sting her (it hadn't really).
"Money!" she almost-but-not-quite-moaned. "You might
have spared me that!"
He sank down and grassed.
And after they had sat thus for another half-hour grassing
and growling and angling and sensing one another, it
turned out that all that he was trying to say was to ask
if she would marry him.
And of course she said yes.
XIII.—Weejee the Pet Dog. An Idyll of the Summer
We were sitting on the verandah of the Sopley's summer
"How lovely it is here," I said to my host and hostess,
"and how still."
It was at this moment that Weejee, the pet dog, took a
sharp nip at the end of my tennis trousers.
"Weejee!!" exclaimed his mistress with great emphasis,
"BAD dog! how dare you, sir! BAD dog!"
"I hope he hasn't hurt you," said my host.
"Oh, it's nothing," I answered cheerfully. "He hardly
"You know I don't think he means anything by it," said
"Oh, I'm SURE he doesn't," I answered.
Weejee was coming nearer to me again as I spoke.
"WEEJEE!!" cried my hostess, "naughty dog, bad!"
"Funny thing about that dog," said Sopley, "the way he
KNOWS people. It's a sort of instinct. He knew right away
that you were a stranger,—now, yesterday, when the
butcher came, there was a new driver on the cart and
Weejee knew it right away,—grabbed the man by the leg
at once,—wouldn't let go. I called out to the man that
it was all right or he might have done Weejee some harm."
At this moment Weejee took the second nip at my other
trouser leg. There was a short GUR-R-R and a slight
"Weejee! Weejee!" called Mrs. Sopley. "How DARE you,
sir! You're just a BAD dog!! Go and lie down, sir. I'm
so sorry. I think, you know, it's your white trousers.
For some reason Weejee simply HATES white trousers. I do
hope he hasn't torn them."
"Oh, no," I said; "it's nothing only a slight tear."
"Here, Weege, Weege," said Sopley, anxious to make a
diversion and picking up a little chip of wood,—"chase
it, fetch it out!" and he made the motions of throwing
it into the lake.
"Don't throw it too far, Charles," said his wife. "He
doesn't swim awfully well," she continued, turning to
me, "and I'm always afraid he might get out of his depth.
Last week he was ever so nearly drowned. Mr. Van Toy
was in swimming, and he had on a dark blue suit (dark
blue seems simply to infuriate Weejee) and Weejee just
dashed in after him. He don't MEAN anything, you know,
it was only the SUIT made him angry,—he really likes
Mr. Van Toy,—but just for a minute we were quite alarmed.
If Mr. Van Toy hadn't carried Weejee in I think he might
have been drowned.
"By jove!" I said in a tone to indicate how appalled I
"Let me throw the stick, Charles," continued Mrs. Sopley.
"Now, Weejee, look Weejee—here, good dog—look! look
now (sometimes Weejee simply won't do what one wants),
here, Weejee; now, good dog!"
Weejee had his tail sideways between his legs and was
moving towards me again.
"Hold on," said Sopley in a stern tone, "let me throw
"Do be careful, Charles," said his wife.
Sopley picked Weejee up by the collar and carried him to
the edge of the water—it was about six inches deep,—and
threw him in,—with much the same force as, let us say,
a pen is thrown into ink or a brush dipped into a pot of
"That's enough; that's quite enough, Charles," exclaimed
Mrs. Sopley. "I think he'd better not swim. The water in
the evening is always a little cold. Good dog, good
doggie, good Weejee!"
Meantime "good Weejee" had come out of the water and was
moving again towards me.
"He goes straight to you," said my hostess. "I think he
must have taken a fancy to you."
To prove it, Weejee gave himself a rotary whirl like a
"Oh, I'm SO sorry," said Mrs. Sopley. "I am. He's wetted
you. Weejee, lie down, down, sir, good dog, bad dog, lie
"It's all right," I said. "I've another white suit in my
"But you must be wet through," said Mrs. Sopley. "Perhaps
we'd better go in. It's getting late, anyway, isn't it?"
And then she added to her husband, "I don't think Weejee
ought to sit out here now that he's wet."
So we went in.
"I think you'll find everything you need," said Sopley,
as he showed me to my room, "and, by the way, don't mind
if Weejee comes into your room at night. We like to let
him run all over the house and he often sleeps on this
"All right," I said cheerfully, "I'll look after him."
That night Weejee came.
And when it was far on in the dead of night—so that even
the lake and the trees were hushed in sleep, I took Weejee
out and—but there is no need to give the details of it.
And the Sopleys are still wondering where Weejee has gone
to, and waiting for him to come back, because he is so
clever at finding his way.
But from where Weejee is, no one finds his way back.
XIV.—Sidelights on the Supermen. An Interview with
He came into my room in that modest, Prussian way that
he has, clicking his heels together, his head very erect,
his neck tightly gripped in his forty-two centimeter
collar. He had on a Pickelhaube, or Prussian helmet,
which he removed with a sweeping gesture and laid on the
So I knew at once that it was General Bernhardi.
In spite of his age he looked—I am bound to admit it—a
fine figure of a man. There was a splendid fullness about
his chest and shoulders, and a suggestion of rugged power
all over him. I had not heard him on the stairs. He
seemed to appear suddenly beside me.
"How did you get past the janitor?" I asked. For it was
late at night, and my room at college is three flights
up the stairs.
"The janitor," he answered carelessly, "I killed him."
I gave a gasp.
"His resistance," the general went on, "was very slight.
Apparently in this country your janitors are unarmed."
"You killed him?" I asked.
"We Prussians," said Bernhardi, "when we wish an immediate
access anywhere, always kill the janitor. It is quicker:
and it makes for efficiency. It impresses them with a
sense of our Furchtbarkeit. You have no word for that in
English, I believe?"
"Not outside of a livery stable," I answered.
There was a pause. I was thinking of the janitor. It
seemed in a sort of way—I admit that I have a sentimental
streak in me—a deplorable thing.
"Sit down," I said presently.
"Thank you," answered the General, but remained standing.
"All right," I said, "do it."
"Thank you," he repeated, without moving.
"I forgot," I said. "Perhaps you CAN'T sit down."
"Not very well," he answered; "in fact, we Prussian
officers"—here he drew himself up higher still—"never
sit down. Our uniforms do not permit of it. This inspires
us with a kind of Rastlosigkeit." Here his eyes glittered.
"It must," I said.
"In fact, with an Unsittlichkeit—an Unverschamtheit—with
"Exactly," I said, for I saw that he was getting excited,
"but pray tell me, General, to what do I owe the honour
of this visit?"
The General's manner changed at once.
"Highly learned, and high-well-born-professor," he said,
"I come to you as to a fellow author, known and honoured
not merely in England, for that is nothing, but in Germany
herself, and in Turkey, the very home of Culture."
I knew that it was mere flattery. I knew that in this
same way Lord Haldane had been so captivated as to come
out of the Emperor's presence unable to say anything but
"Sittlichkeit" for weeks; that good old John Burns had
been betrayed by a single dinner at Potsdam, and that
the Sultan of Turkey had been told that his Answers to
Ultimatums were the wittiest things written since Kant's
Critique of Pure Reason. Yet I was pleased in spite of
"What!" I exclaimed, "they know my works of humour in
"Do they know them?" said the General. "Ach! Himmel!
How they laugh. That work of yours (I think I see it on
the shelf behind you), The Elements of Political Science,
how the Kaiser has laughed over it! And the Crown Prince!
It nearly killed him!"
"I will send him the new edition," I said. "But tell
me, General, what is it that you want of me?"
"It is about my own book," he answered. "You have read
I pointed to a copy of Germany and the Next War, in its
glaring yellow cover—the very hue of Furchtbarkeit—lying
on the table.
"You have read it? You have really read it?" asked the
General with great animation.
"No," I said, "I won't go so far as to say that. But I
have TRIED to read it. And I talk about it as if I had
The General's face fell.
"You are as the others," he said, "They buy the book,
they lay it on the table, they talk of it at dinner,—they
say 'Bernhardi has prophesied this, Bernhardi foresaw
that,' but read it,—nevermore."
"Still," I said, "you get the royalties."
"They are cut off. The perfidious British Government will
not allow the treacherous publisher to pay them. But that
is not my complaint."
"What is the matter, then?" I asked.
"My book is misunderstood. You English readers have failed
to grasp its intention. It is not meant as a book of
strategy. It is what you call a work of humour. The book
is to laugh. It is one big joke."
"You don't say so!" I said in astonishment.
"Assuredly," answered the General. "Here"—and with this
he laid hold of the copy of the book before me and began
rapidly turning over the leaves—"let me set it out
asunder for you, the humour of it. Listen, though, to
this, where I speak of Germany's historical mission on
page 73,—'No nation on the face of the globe is so able
to grasp and appropriate all the elements of culture as
Germany is?' What do you say to that? Is it not a joke?
Ach, Himmel, how our officers have laughed over that in
Belgium! With their booted feet on the mantelpiece as
they read and with bottles of appropriated champagne
beside them as they laugh."
"You are right, General," I said, "you will forgive my
not laughing out loud, but you are a great humorist."
"Am I not? And listen further still, how I deal with the
theme of the German character,—'Moral obligations such
as no nation had ever yet made the standard of conduct,
are laid down by the German philosophers.'"
"Good," I said, "gloriously funny; read me some more."
"This, then, you will like,—here I deal with the
permissible rules of war. It is on page 236 that I am
reading it. I wrote this chiefly to make laugh our naval
men and our Zeppelin crews,—'A surprise attack, in order
to be justified, must be made only on the armed forces
of the state and not on its peaceful inhabitants.
Otherwise the attack becomes a treacherous crime.' Eh,
Here the General broke into roars of laughter.
"Wonderful," I said. "Your book ought to sell well in
Scarborough and in Yarmouth. Read some more."
"I should like to read you what I say about neutrality,
and how England is certain to violate our strategical
right by an attack on Belgium and about the sharp measures
that ought to be taken against neutral ships laden with
contraband,—the passages are in Chapters VII and VIII,
but for the moment I fail to lay the thumb on them."
"Give me the book, General," I said. "Now that I understand
what you meant by it, I think I can show you also some
very funny passages in it. These things, for example,
that you say about Canada and the colonies,—yes, here
it is, page 148,—'In the event of war the loosely-joined
British Empire will break into pieces, and the colonies
will consult their own interests,'—excellently funny,—and
this again,—'Canada will not permanently retain any
trace of the English spirit,'—and this too,—'the Colonies
can be completely ignored so far as the European theatre
of war is concerned,'—and here again,—'Egypt and South
Africa will at once revolt and break away from the empire,'
—really, General, your ideas of the British Colonies
are superbly funny. Mark Twain wasn't a circumstance on
"Not at all," said Bernhardi, and his voice reverted to
his habitual Prussian severity, "these are not jokes.
They are facts. It is only through the folly of the
Canadians in not reading my book that they are not more
widely known. Even as it is they are exactly the views
of your great leader Heinrich Bauratze—"
"Who?" I said.
"Heinrich Bauratze, your great Canadian leader—"
"Leader of what?"
"That I do not know," said Bernhardi. "Our intelligence
office has not yet heard what he leads. But as soon as
he leads anything we shall know it. Meantime we can see
from his speeches that he has read my book. Ach! if only
your other leaders in Canada,—Sir Robert Laurier, Sir
Osler Sifton, Sir Williams Borden,—you smile, you do
not realize that in Germany we have exact information of
everything: all that happens, we know it."
Meantime I had been looking over the leaves of the book.
"Here at least," I said, "is some splendidly humorous
stuff,—this about the navy. 'The completion of the Kiel
Canal,' you write in Chapter XII, 'is of great importance
as it will enable our largest battleships to appear
unexpectedly in the Baltic and in the North Sea!' Appear
unexpectedly! If they only would! How exquisitely
"Sir!" said the General. "That is not to laugh. You err
yourself. That is Furchtbarkeit. I did not say the book
is all humour. That would be false art. Part of it is
humour and part is Furchbarkeit. That passage is specially
designed to frighten Admiral Jellicoe. And he won't read
it! Potztausand, he won't read it!"—repeated the general,
his eyes flashing and his clenched fist striking in the
air—"What sort of combatants are these of the British
Navy who refuse to read our war-books? The Kaiser's
Heligoland speech! They never read a word of it. The
Furchtbarkeit-Proklamation of August,—they never looked
at it. The Reichstags-Rede with the printed picture of
the Kaiser shaking hands with everybody,—they used it
to wrap up sandwiches! What are they, then, Jellicoe and
his men? They sit there in their ships and they read
nothing! How can we get at them if they refuse to read?
How can we frighten them away if they haven't culture
enough to get frightened. Beim Himmel," shouted the
General in great excitement—
But what more he said can never be known. For at this
second a sudden catastrophe happened.
In his frenzy of excitement the General struck with his
fist at the table, missed it, lost his balance and fell
over sideways right on the point of his Pickelhaube which
he had laid on the sofa. There was a sudden sound as of
the ripping of cloth and the bursting of pneumatic cushions
and to my amazement the General collapsed on the sofa,
his uniform suddenly punctured in a dozen places.
"Schnapps," he cried, "fetch brandy."
"Great Heavens! General," I said, "what has happened?"
"My uniform!" he moaned, "it has burst! Give me Schnapps!"
He seemed to shrink visibly in size. His magnificent
chest was gone. He was shrivelling into a tattered heap.
He appeared as he lay there, a very allegory and
illustration of Prussian Furchtbarkeit with the wind
going out of it.
"Fetch Schnapps,"—he moaned.
"There are no Schnapps here," I said, "this is McGill
"Then call the janitor," he said.
"You killed him," I said.
"I didn't. I was lying. I gave him a look that should
have killed him, but I don't think it did. Rouse yourself
from your chair, and call him—"
"I will," I said, and started up from my seat.
But as I did so, the form of General Bernhardi, which I
could have sworn had been lying in a tattered heap on
the sofa on the other side of the room, seemed suddenly
to vanish from my eyes.
There was nothing before me but the empty room with the
fire burned low in the grate, and in front of me an open
copy of Bernhardi's book.
I must,—like many another reader,—have fallen asleep
XV.—The Survival of the Fittest
A bell tinkled over the door of the little drug store as
I entered it; which seemed strange in a lighted street
of a great city.
But the little store itself, dim even in the centre and
dark in the corners was gloomy enough for a country
"I have to have the bell," said the man behind the counter,
reading my thought, "I'm alone here just now."
"A toothbrush?" he said in answer to my question. "Yes,
I guess I've got some somewhere round here." He was
stooping under and behind his counter and his voice came
up from below. "I've got some somewhere—" And then as
if talking to himself he murmured from behind a pile of
cardboard boxes, "I saw some Tuesday."
Had I gone across the street to the brilliant premises
of the Cut Rate Pharmaceutical where they burn electric
light by the meterfull I should no sooner have said "tooth
brush," than one of the ten clerks in white hospital
jackets would have poured a glittering assortment over
the counter—prophylactic, lactic and every other sort.
But I had turned in, I don't know why, to the little
store across the way.
"Here, I guess these must be tooth brushes," he said,
reappearing at the level of the counter with a flat box
in his hand. They must have been presumably, or have once
been,—at some time long ago.
"They're tooth brushes all right," he said, and started
looking over them with an owner's interest.
"What is the price of them?" I asked.
"Well," the man said musingly, "I don't—jest—know. I
guess it's written on them likely," and he began to look
at the handles.
Over at the Pharmaceutical across the way the words "what
price?" would have precipitated a ready avalanche of
"This one seems to be seventy-five cents," he said and
handed me one.
"Is it a good tooth brush?" I asked.
"It ought to be," he said, "you'd think, at that price."
He had no shop talk, no patter whatever.
Then he looked at the brush again, more closely.
"I don't believe it IS seventy-five," he muttered, "I
think it must be fifteen, don't you?"
I took it from his hand and looked and said,—for it is
well to take an occasional step towards the Kingdom of
Heaven,—that I was certain it was seventy-five.
"Well," said the man, "perhaps it is, my sight is not so
good now. I've had too much to do here and the work's
been using me up some."
I noticed now as he said this how frail he looked as he
bent over his counter wrapping up the tooth brush.
"I've no sealing wax," he said, "or not handy."
"That doesn't matter," I answered, "just put it in the
Over the way of course the tooth brush would have been
done up almost instantaneously, in white enamel paper,
sealed at the end and stamped with a label, as fast as
the money paid for it went rattling along an automatic
carrier to a cashier.
"You've been very busy, eh?" I asked.
"Well, not so much with customers," he said, "but with
fixing up the place,"—here he glanced about him. Heaven
only knows what he had fixed. There were no visible signs
"You see I've only been in here a couple of months. It
was a pretty tough looking place when I came to it. But
I've been getting things fixed. First thing I did I put
those two carboys in the window with the lights behind
them. They show up fine, don't they?"
"Fine!" I repeated; so fine indeed that the dim yellow
light in them reached three or four feet from the jar.
But for the streaming light from the great store across
the street, the windows of the little shop would have
"It's a good location here," he said. Any one could have
told him that it was the worst location within two miles.
"I'll get it going presently," he went on. "Of course
it's uphill just at first. Being such a good location
the rent is high. The first two weeks I was here I was
losing five dollars a day. But I got those lights in the
window and got the stock overhauled a little to make it
attractive and last month I reckon I was only losing
three dollars a day."
"That's better," I said.
"Oh, yes," he went on, and there was a clear glint of
purpose in his eye that contrasted with his sunken cheeks.
"I'll get it going. This last two weeks I'm not losing
more than say two and a half a day or something like
that? The custom is bound to come. You get a place fixed
up and made attractive like this and people are sure to
come sooner or later."
What it was that was fixed up, and wherein lay the
attractiveness I do not know. It could not be seen with
the outward eye. Perhaps after two months' work of piling
dusty boxes now this way, now that, and putting little
candles behind the yellow carboys to try the effect, some
inward vision came that lighted the place up with an
attractiveness wanting even in the glass and marble
glitter of the Pharmacy across the way.
"Yes, sir," continued the man, "I mean to stay with it.
I'll get things into shape here, fix it up a little more
and soon I'll have it,"—here his face radiated with a
vision of hope—"so that I won't lose a single cent."
I looked at him in surprise. So humble an ambition it
had never been my lot to encounter.
"All that bothers me," he went on, "is my health. It's
a nice business the drug business: I like it, but it
takes it out of you. You've got to be alert and keen all
the time; thinking out plans to please the custom when
it comes. Often I don't sleep well nights for the rush
I looked about the little shop, as gloomy and sleepful
as the mausoleum of an eastern king, and wondered by what
alchemy of the mind the little druggist found it a very
vortex of activity.
"But I can fix my health," he returned—"I may have to
get some one in here and go away for a spell. Perhaps
I'll do it. The doctor was saying he thought I might take
a spell off and think out a few more wrinkles while I'm
At the word "doctor" I looked at him more warmly, and I
saw then what was plain enough to see but for the dim
light of the little place,—the thin flush on the cheek,
the hopeful mind, the contrast of the will to live and
the need to die, God's little irony on man, it was all
there plain enough to read. The "spell" for which the
little druggist was going is that which is written in
letters of sorrow over the sunlit desolation of Arizona
and the mountains of Colorado.
A month went by before I passed that way again. I looked
across at the little store and I read the story in its
drawn blinds and the padlock on its door.
The little druggist had gone away for a spell. And they
told me, on enquiry, that his journey had been no further
than to the cemetery behind the town where he lies now,
musing, if he still can, on the law of the survival of
the fittest in this well-adjusted world.
And they say that the shock of the addition of his whole
business to the great Pharmacy across the way scarcely
disturbed a soda siphon.
XVI—The First Newspaper. A Sort of Allegory
How likes it you, Master Brenton?" said the brawny
journeyman, spreading out the news sheet on a smooth
oaken table where it lay under the light of a leaded
"A marvellous fair sheet," murmured Brenton Caxton,
seventh of the name, "let me but adjust my glasses and
peruse it further lest haply there be still aught in it
that smacks of error."
"It needs not," said the journeyman, "'tis the fourth
time already from the press."
"Nay, nay," answered Master Brenton softly, as he adjusted
his great horn-rimmed spectacles and bent his head over
the broad damp news sheet before him. "Let us grudge no
care in this. The venture is a new one and, meseems, a
very parlous thing withal. 'Tis a venture that may easily
fail and carry down our fortunes with it, but at least
let it not be said that it failed for want of brains in
"Fail quotha!" said a third man, who had not yet spoken,
old, tall and sour of visage and wearing a printer's
leather apron. He had moved over from the further side
of the room where a little group of apprentices stood
beside the wooden presses that occupied the corner, and
he was looking over the shoulder of Master Brenton Caxton.
"How can it do aught else? 'Tis a mad folly. Mark you,
Master Brenton and Master Nick, I have said it from the
first and let the blame be none of mine. 'Tis a mad thing
you do here. See then," he went on, turning and waving
his hand, "this vast room, these great presses, yonder
benches and tools, all new, yonder vats of ink straight
out of Flanders, how think you you can recover the cost
of all this out of yonder poor sheets? Five and forty
years have I followed this mystery of printing, ever
since thy grandfather's day, Master Brenton, and never
have I seen the like. What needed this great chamber when
your grandfather and father were content with but a garret
place, and yonder presses that can turn off four score
copies in the compass of a single hour,—'Tis mad folly,
The moment was an interesting one. The speakers were in
a great room with a tall ceiling traversed by blackened
beams. From the street below there came dimly through
the closed casements the sound of rumbling traffic and
the street cries of the London of the seventeenth century.
Two vast presses of such colossal size that their wooden
levers would tax the strength of the stoutest apprentice,
were ranged against the further wall. About the room,
spread out on oaken chairs and wooden benches, were flat
boxes filled with leaden type, freshly molten, and a
great pile of paper, larger than a man could lift, stood
in a corner.
The first English newspaper in history was going to press.
Those who in later ages,—editors, printers, and
workers—have participated in the same scene, can form
some idea of the hopes and fears, the doubts and the
difficulties, with which the first newspaper was ushered
into the world.
Master Brenton Caxton turned upon the last speaker the
undisturbed look of the eye that sees far across the
present into the years to come.
"Nay, Edward," he said, "you have laboured over much in
the past and see not into the future. You think this
chamber too great for our purpose? I tell you the time
will come when not this room alone but three or four such
will be needed for our task. Already I have it in my mind
that I will divide even this room into portions, with
walls shrewdly placed through its length and breadth, so
that each that worketh shall sit as it were in his own
chamber and there shall stand one at the door and whosoever
cometh, to whatever part of our task his business
appertains, he shall forthwith be brought to the room of
him that hath charge of it. Cometh he with a madrigal or
other light poesy that he would set out on the press, he
shall find one that has charge of such matters and can
discern their true value. Or, cometh he with news of
aught that happens in the realm, so shall he be brought
instant to the room of him that recordeth such events.
Or, if so be, he would write a discourse on what seemeth
him some wise conceit touching the public concerns, he
shall find to his hand a convenient desk with ink and
quills and all that he needeth to set it straightway on
paper; thus shall there be a great abundance of written
matter to our hand so that not many days shall elapse
after one of our news sheets goes abroad before there be
matter enough to fill another."
"Days!" said the aged printer, "think you you can fill
one of these news sheets in a few days! Where indeed if
you search the whole realm will you find talk enough in
a single week to fill out this great sheet half an ell
"Ay, days indeed!" broke in Master Nicholas, the younger
journeyman. "Master Brenton speaks truth, or less than
truth. For not days indeed, but in the compass of a single
day, I warrant you, shall we find the matter withal."
Master Nicholas spoke with the same enthusiasm as his
chief, but with less of the dreamer in his voice and eye,
and with more swift eagerness of the practical man.
"Fill it, indeed," he went on. "Why, Gad Zooks! man! who
knoweth what happenings there are and what not till one
essays the gathering of them! And should it chance that
there is nothing of greater import, no boar hunt of his
Majesty to record, nor the news of some great entertainment
by one of the Lords of the Court, then will we put in
lesser matter, aye whatever comes to hand, the talk of
his Majesty's burgesses in the Parliament or any such
"Hear him!" sneered the printer, "the talk of his Majesty's
burgesses in Westminster, forsooth! And what clerk or
learned person would care to read of such? Or think you
that His Majesty's Chamberlain would long bear that such
idle chatter should be bruited abroad. If you can find
no worthier thing for this our news sheet than the talk
of the Burgesses, then shall it fail indeed. Had it been
the speech of the King's great barons and the bishops
'twere different. But dost fancy that the great barons
would allow that their weighty discourses be reduced to
common speech so that even the vulgar may read it and
haply here and there fathom their very thought itself,—and
the bishops, the great prelates, to submit their ideas
to the vulgar hand of a common printer, framing them into
mere sentences! 'Tis unthinkable that they would sanction
"Aye," murmured Caxton in his dreaming voice, "the time
shall come, Master Edward, when they will not only sanction
it but seek it."
"Look you," broke in Master Nick, "let us have done with
this talk? Whether there be enough happenings or not
enough,"—and here he spoke with a kindling eye and looked
about him at the little group of apprentices and printers,
who had drawn near to listen, "if there be not enough,
then will I MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. What is easier than to
tell of happenings forth of the realm of which no man
can know,—some talk of the Grand Turk and the war that
he makes, or some happenings in the New Land found by
Master Columbus. Aye," he went on, warming to his words
and not knowing that he embodied in himself the first
birth on earth of the telegraphic editor,—"and why not.
One day we write it out on our sheet 'The Grand Turk
maketh disastrous war on the Bulgars of the North and
hath burnt divers of their villages.' And that hath no
sooner gone forth than we print another sheet saying,
'It would seem that the villages be not burnt but only
scorched, nor doth it appear that the Turk burnt them
but that the Bulgars burnt divers villages of the Turk
and are sitting now in his mosque in the city of Hadrian.'
Then shall all men run to and fro and read the sheet and
question and ask, 'Is it thus?' And, 'Is it thus?' and
by very uncertainty of circumstances, they shall demand
the more curiously to see the news sheet and read it."
"Nay, nay, Master Nick," said Brenton, firmly, "that will
I never allow. Let us make it to ourselves a maxim that
all that shall be said in this news sheet, or 'news
paper,' as my conceit would fain call it, for be it not
made of paper (here a merry laugh of the apprentices
greeted the quaint fancy of the Master), shall be of
ascertained verity and fact indisputable. Should the
Grand Turk make war and should the rumour of it come to
these isles, then will we say 'The Turk maketh war,' and
should the Turk be at peace, then we will say 'The Turk
it doth appear is now at peace.' And should no news come,
then shall we say 'In good sooth we know not whether the
Turk destroyeth the Bulgars or whether he doth not, for
while some hold that he harasseth them sorely, others
have it that he harasseth them not, whereby we are sore
put to it to know whether there be war or peace, nor do
we desire to vex the patience of those who read by any
further discourse on the matter, other than to say that
we ourselves are in doubt what be and what be not truth,
nor will we any further speak of it other than this.'"
Those about Caxton listened with awe to this speech. They
did not,—they could not know,—that this was the birth
of the Leading Article, but there was something in the
strangely fascinating way in which their chief enlarged
upon his own ignorance that foreshowed to the meanest
intelligence the possibilities of the future.
Nicholas shook his head.
"'Tis a poor plan, Master Brenton," he said, "the folk
wish news, give them the news. The more thou givest them,
the better pleased they are and thus doth the news sheet
move from hand to hand till it may be said (if I too may
coin a phrase) to increase vastly its 'circulation'—"
"In sooth," said Master Brenton, looking at Nicholas with
a quiet expression that was not exempt from a certain
slyness, "there I do hold thou art in the wrong, even as
a matter of craft or policie. For it seems to me that if
our paper speaketh first this and then that but hath no
fixed certainty of truth, sooner or later will all its
talk seem vain, and no man will heed it. But if it speak
always the truth, then sooner or later shall all come to
believe it and say of any happening, 'It standeth written
in the paper, therefore it is so.' And here I charge you
all that have any part in this new venture," continued
Master Brenton, looking about the room at the listening
faces and speaking with great seriousness, "let us lay
it to our hearts that our maxim shall be truth and truth
alone. Let no man set his hand to aught that shall go
upon our presses save only that which is assured truth.
In this way shall our venture ever be pleasing to the
Most High, and I do verily believe,"—and here Caxton's
voice sank lower as if he were thinking aloud,—"in the
long run, it will be mighty good for our circulation."
The speaker paused. Then turning to the broad sheet before
him, he began to scan its columns with his eye. The others
stood watching him as he read.
"What is this, Master Edward," he queried presently,
"here I see in this first induct, or column, as one names
it, the word King fairly and truly spelled. Lower down
it standeth Kyng, and yet further in the second induct
Kynge, and in the last induct where there is talk of His
Majesty's marvelous skill in the French game of palm or
tennis, lo the word stands Quhyngge! How sayeth thou?"
"Wouldst have it written always in but one and the same
way?" asked the printer in astonishment.
"Aye, truly," said Caxton.
"With never any choice, or variation to suit the fancy
of him who reads so that he who likes it written King
may see it so, and yet also he who would prefer it written
in a freer style, or Quhyngge, may also find it so and
thus both be pleased."
"That will I never have!" said Master Brenton firmly,
"dost not remember, friend, the old tale in the fabula
of Aesopus of him who would please all men. Here will I
make another maxim for our newspaper. All men we cannot
please, for in pleasing one belike we run counter to
another. Let us set our hand to write always without
fear. Let us seek favour with none. Always in our news
sheet we will seek to speak dutifully and with all
reverence of the King his Majesty: let us also speak with
all respect and commendation of His Majesty's great
prelates and nobles, for are they not the exalted of the
land? Also I would have it that we say nothing harsh
against our wealthy merchants and burgesses, for hath
not the Lord prospered them in their substances. Yea,
friends, let us speak ever well of the King, the clergy,
the nobility and of all persons of wealth and substantial
holdings. But beyond this"—here Brenton Coxton's eye
flashed,—"let us speak with utter fearlessness of all
men. So shall we be, if I may borrow a mighty good word
from Tacitus his Annals, of a complete independence,
hanging on to no man. In fact our venture shall be an
The listeners felt an instinctive awe at the words, and
again a strange prescience of the future made itself felt
in every mind. Here for the first time in history was
being laid down that fine, fearless creed that has made
the independent press what it is.
Meantime Caxton continued to glance his eye over the news
sheet, murmuring his comments on what he saw,—"Ah! vastly
fine, Master Nicholas,—this of the sailing of His
Majesty's ships for Spain,—and this, too, of the Doge
of Venice, his death, 'tis brave reading and maketh a
fair discourse. Here also this likes me, 'tis shrewdly
devised," and here he placed his finger on a particular
spot on the news sheet,—"here in speaking of the strange
mishap of my Lord Arundel, thou useth a great S for
strange, and setteth it in a line all by itself whereby
the mind of him that reads is suddenly awakened, alarmed
as it were by a bell in the night. 'Tis good. 'Tis well.
But mark you, friend Nicholas, try it not too often, nor
use your great letters too easily. In the case of my Lord
Arundel, it is seemly, but for a mishap to a lesser
person, let it stand in a more modest fashion."
There was a pause. Then suddenly Caxton looked up again.
"What manner of tale is this! What strange thing is here!
In faith, Master Nicholas, whence hast thou so marvelous
a thing! The whole world must know of it. Harken ye all
"'Let all men that be troubled of aches, spavins, rheums,
boils, maladies of the spleen or humours of the blood,
come forthwith to the sign of the Red Lantern in East
Cheap. There shall they find one that hath a marvelous
remedy for all such ailments, brought with great dangers
and perils of the journey from a far distant land. This
wonderous balm shall straightway make the sick to be well
and the lame to walk. Rubbed on the eye it restoreth
sight and applied to the ear it reviveth the hearing.
'Tis the sole invention of Doctor Gustavus Friedman,
sometime of Gottingen and brought by him hitherwards out
of the sheer pity of his heart for them that be afflicted,
nor shall any other fee be asked for it save only such
a light and tender charge as shall defray the cost of
Doctor Friedman his coming and going.'"
Caxton paused and gazed at Master Nicholas in wonder.
"Whence hadst thou this?"
Master Nicholas smiled.
"I had it of a chapman, or travelling doctor, who was
most urgent that we set it forth straightway on the
"And is it true?" asked Caxton; "thou hast it of a full
surety of knowledge?"
Nicholas laughed lightly.
"True or false, I know not," he said, "but the fellow
was so curious that we should print it that he gave me
two golden laurels and a new sovereign on the sole
understanding that we should set it forth in print."
There was deep silence for a moment.
"He PAYETH to have it printed!" said Caxton, deeply
"Aye," said Master Nicholas, "he payeth and will pay
more. The fellow hath other balms equally potent. All of
these he would admonish, or shall I say advert, the
"So," said Caxton, thoughtfully, "he wishes to make, if
I may borrow a phrase of Albertus Magnus, an advertisement
of his goods."
"Even so," said Nicholas.
"I see," said the Master, "he payeth us. We advert the
goods. Forthwith all men buy them. Then hath he more
money. He payeth us again. We advert the goods more and
still he payeth us. That would seem to me, friend Nick,
a mighty good busyness for us."
"So it is," rejoined Nicholas, "and after him others will
come to advert other wares until belike a large part of
our news sheet,—who knows? the whole of it, perhaps,
shall be made up in the merry guise of advertisements."
Caxton sat silent in deep thought.
"But Master Caxton"—cried the voice of a young apprentice,
a mere child, as he seemed, with fair hair and blue eyes
filled with the native candour of unsullied youth,—"is
this tale true!"
"What sayest thou, Warwick?" said the master printer,
"Good master, is the tale of the wonderous balm true?"
"Boy," said Caxton, "Master Nicholas, hath even said, we
know not if it is true."
"But didst thou not charge us," pleaded the boy, "that
all that went under our hand into the press should be
truth and truth alone?"
"I did," said Caxton thoughtfully, "but I spoke perhaps
somewhat in overhaste. I see that we must here distinguish.
Whether this is true or not we cannot tell. But it is
PAID FOR, and that lifts it, as who should say, out of
the domain of truth. The very fact that it is paid for
giveth it, as it were, a new form of merit, a verity
altogether its own."
"Ay, ay," said Nicholas, with a twinkle in his shrewd
eyes, "entirely its own."
"Indeed so," said Caxton, "and here let us make to
ourselves another and a final maxim of guidance. All
things that any man will pay for, these we will print,
whether true or not, for that doth not concern us. But
if one cometh here with any strange tale of a remedy or
aught else and wishes us to make advertisement of it and
hath no money to pay for it, then shall he be cast forth
out of this officina, or office, if I may call it so,
neck and crop into the street. Nay, I will have me one
of great strength ever at the door ready for such castings."
A murmur of approval went round the group.
Caxton would have spoken further but at the moment the
sound of a bell was heard booming in the street without.
"'Tis the Great Bell," said Caxton, "ringing out the hour
of noon. Quick, all of you to your task. Lay me the forms
on the press and speed me the work. We start here a great
adventure. Mark well the maxims I have given you, and
God speed our task."
And in another hour or so, the prentice boys of the master
printer were calling in the streets the sale of the first
XVII—In the Good Time After the War
[Footnote: An extract from a London newspaper of 1916.]
HOUSE OF COMMONS REPORT
The Prime Minister in rising said that he thought the
time had now come when the House might properly turn its
attention again to domestic affairs. The foreign world
was so tranquil that there was really nothing of importance
which need be brought to the attention of the House.
Members, however, would, perhaps, be glad to learn
incidentally that a new and more comfortable cage had
been supplied for the ex-German Emperor, and that the
ex-Crown Prince was now showing distinct signs of
intelligence, and was even able to eat quite quietly out
of his keeper's hand. Members would be gratified to know
that at last the Hohenzollern family were able to abstain
from snapping at the hand that fed them. But he would
now turn to the subject of Home Rule.
Here the House was seen to yawn noticeably, and a general
lack of interest was visible, especially among the
Nationalist and Ulster members. A number of members were
seen to rise as if about to move to the refreshment-
room. Mr. John Redmond and Sir Edward Carson were seen
walking arm in arm towards the door.
The Prime Minister. "Will the members kindly keep their
seats? We are about to hold a discussion on Home Rule.
Members will surely recall that this form of discussion
was one of our favourite exercises only a year or so ago.
I trust that members have not lost interest in the
subject." (General laughter among the members, and cries
of "Cut it out!" "What is it?")
The Prime Minister (with some asperity). "Members are
well aware what Home Rule meant. It was a plan—or rather
it was a scheme—that is to say, it was an act of
parliament, or I should say a bill, in fact, Mr. Speaker,
I don't mind confessing that, not having my papers with
me, I am unable to inform the House just what Home Rule
was. I think, perhaps, the Ex-Minister of Munitions has
a copy of last year's bill."
Mr. Lloyd George rising, with evident signs of boredom.
"The House will excuse me. I am tired. I have been out
all day aeroplaning with Mr. Churchill and Mr. Bonar Law,
with a view to inspect the new national training camp.
I had the Home Rule Bill with me along with the Welsh
Disestablishment Bill and the Land Bill, and I am afraid
that I lost the whole bally lot of them; dropped them
into the sea or something. I hope the Speaker will overlook
the term 'bally.' It may not be parliamentary."
Mr. Speaker (laughing). "Tut, tut, never mind a little
thing like that. I am sure that after all that we have
gone through together, the House is quite agreed that a
little thing like parliamentary procedure doesn't matter."
Mr. Lloyd George (humbly). "Still I am sorry for the
term. I'd like to withdraw it. I separate or distinguish
in any degree the men of Ulster from the men of Tipperary,
and the heart of Belfast from the heart of Dublin." (Loud
Mr. Redmond (springing forward). "And I'll say this: Not
I, nor any man of Ireland, Dublin, Belfast, or Connaught
will ever set our hands or names to any bill that shall
separate Ireland in any degree from the rest of the
Empire. Work out, if you like, a new scheme of government.
If the financial clauses are intricate, get one of your
treasury clerks to solve them. If there's trouble in
arranging your excise on your customs, settle it in any
way you please. But it is too late now to separate England
and Ireland. We've held the flag of the Empire in our
hand. We mean to hold it in our grasp forever. We have
seen its colours tinged a brighter red with the best of
Ireland's blood, and that proud stain shall stay forever
as the symbol of the unity of Irish and the English
(Loud cheers ring through the House; several members rise
in great excitement, all shouting and speaking together.)
There is heard the voice of Mr. Angus McCluskey, Member
for the Hebrides, calling—"And ye'll no forget Scotland,
me lad, when you talk of unity! Do you mind the
Forty-Second, and the London Scottish in the trenches of
the Aisne? Wha carried the flag of the Empire then? Unity,
ma friends, ye'll never break it. It may involve a wee
bit sacrifice for Scotland financially speaking. I'll no
say no to a reveesion of the monetairy terms, if ye
suggest it,—but for unita—Scotland and the Empire, now
A great number of members have risen in their seats. Mr.
Open Ap Owen Glendower is calling: "Aye and Wales! never
forget Wales." Mr. Trevelyan Trendinning of Cornwall has
started singing "And shall Trelawney Die?"—while the
deep booming of "Rule Britannia" from five hundred throats
ascends to the very rafters of the House.
The Speaker laughing and calling for order, while two of
the more elderly clerks are beating with the mace on the
table,—"Gentlemen, gentlemen, I have a proposal to make.
I have just learned that there is at the Alhambra in
Leicester Square, a real fine moving picture show of the
entrance of the Allies into Berlin. Let's all go to it.
We can leave a committee of the three youngest members
to stay behind and draw up a new government for Ireland.
Even they can't go wrong now as to what we want."
Loud Cheers as the House empties, singing "It was a Long
Way to Tipperary, but the way lay through Berlin."